Home > Uncategorized > Pompton Lakes Drinking Water Contaminated With Same Toxic Chemical Recently Found At Ford Ringwood Superfund Site

Pompton Lakes Drinking Water Contaminated With Same Toxic Chemical Recently Found At Ford Ringwood Superfund Site

Local Water Officials Failed to Disclose Results For 3 Years

(Update: 9/2/16 – wow – this is old news – reported by Bergen Record way back in March 20, 2016. Who knew?)

According to a local report, the people of Pompton Lakes NJ – home of a massive Dupont toxic mess – are exposed on a daily basis to a “likely carcinogen” in their drinking water and no one told them about that for over 3 years. Here’s the story.

The Bergen Record recently reported – in a series of high profile and detailed stories – about the discovery of the likely carcinogen 1,4,-dioxane in groundwater impacted by the Ford Superfund site, see:

The Record blasted US EPA for failure to disclose this information to the public for several months after EPA discovered the contamination.

News reports also implied that the chemical could be migrating to the Wanaque Reservoir and impacting drinking water supplies.

I wrote about why both US EPA and NJ DEP failed to do the right thing in the Ringwood case, and explained the underlying flaw in regulations that led to this failure, see:

But no one in Ringwood is drinking that contaminated groundwater, or exposed to it as far as I know.

So, I was more than surprised to learn – according to a March 21, 2016 letter to residents from the Pompton Lakes Municipal Utilities Authority (available upon request) – that the likely carcinogen 1,4,-dioxane was detected in drinking water in Pompton Lakes over 3 years ago and that this was not disclosed to the public for over 3 years.

There was actual exposure, a far more serious risk than Ringwood groundwater.

That PLMUA letter is highly misleading and flat out false in claiming that no standard exists and in failing to mention the NJ DEP groundwater standard of 0.4 parts per billion.

Not all residents of Pompton Lakes even received the PLMUA letter – and neither EPA nor DEP ever mentioned the issue despite numerous public meetings in Pompton Lakes about groundwater contamination over many years.

What explains the lack of public outrage and media coverage of the Pompton Lakes actual 1,4, dioxane drinking water problem?

Is that contamination linked to Dupont?

Why was it not disclosed for over 3 YEARS by local officials, EPA and NJ DEP?

There is no “safe” level of exposure to a human carcinogen and no threshold concentration under which there is no cancer risk. The only “safe” exposure is ZERO.

I fired off this letter today to US EPA Regional Adminsitrator Enck and NJ DEEP Commissioner Martin in an attempt to force them to respond:

Dear US EPA Regional Administrator Enck and NJ DEP Commissioner Martin:

The purpose of this letter is to request that your respective agencies take immediate steps to respond to the detection of unsafe levels of 1,4, dioxane – an EPA classified “likely carcinogen” – in NJ groundwater and drinking water supplies.

The chemical has been detected in groundwater at federally and DEP regulated sites and facilities (e.g. Ford Ringwood Superfund site and it may be linked to the Dupont/Chemours Pompton Lakes RCRA site) and in public water supplies (e.g. Pompton Lakes) at unsafe levels that exceed applicable health based standards and policies.

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) adopted an updated “Interim Specific Groundwater Quality Criterion” (ISGWQS) for 1,4-dioxane in October 2015.

Summary of Decision: In accordance with the New Jersey Ground Water Quality Standards rules at N.J.A.C. 7:9C-1.7, the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) has developed an interim specific ground water quality criterion of 0.4 μg/L and PQL of 0.1 μg/L for 1,4-dioxane. The basis for this criterion and PQL are discussed below. Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:9C-1.9(c),  the applicable constituent standard is 0.4 μ g/L. 


The DEP’s scientific basis for the regulatory update was based on health effects and EPA’s update to the IRIS assessment:

The purpose of this memorandum is to recommend a revised interim specific ground water criterion of 0.35 ug/L for 1,4-dioxane, based on the recently updated IRIS assessment for this chemical.

The current interim specific ground water criterion for 1,4-dioxane is 3 ug/L, effective February 2008. It is based on the previous IRIS assessment, posted in 1988, that classified this chemical as Group B2 (Probable Human Carcinogen) with a slope factor of 0.011 (mg/kg/day)-1.

The IRIS assessment for 1,4-dioxane was updated on August 11, 2010 (USEPA, 2010a), and is supported by a Toxicological Review document (USEPA, 2010b). The updated IRIS assessment classifies 1,4-dioxane as likely to be carcinogenic to humans and provides an updated slope factor of 0.10 (mg/kg/day)-1. 

I have reviewed the updated IRIS assessment and Toxicological Review for 1,4-dioxane and recommend that the new slope factor be used as the basis for the interim ground water quality criterion.

1,4-Dioxane administered in drinking water caused liver tumors (hepatocellular adenomas and carcinomas) in several species and strains of rats, mice, and guinea pigs. It also caused nasal (squamous cell carcinomas), peritoneal mesotheliomas, and mammary tumors in rats. The mode of action for carcinogenicity by 1,4-dioxane is not known. Therefore, the IRIS risk assessment for carcinogenic effects was appropriately based on the default approach, linear low dose extrapolation, and a cancer slope factor was derived.

The previous IRIS slope factor, 0.011 (mg/kg/day)-1, was based on increased incidence of squamous cell carcinomas of the nasal turbinates in male rats in a 1978 chronic drinking water study (NCI, 1978). The current slope factor, 0.10 (mg/kg/day)-1, is based on liver tumors in female mice in a more recent study (Kano et al., 2009) which provides a more sensitive endpoint for carcinogenicity.

I have reviewed the IRIS Toxicological Review for 1,4-Dioxane (USEPA, 2010b) which presents the basis for the current IRIS assessment. I concur with USEPA’s conclusion which form the basis for the risk assessment for 1,4-dioxane, as well as the recommended slope factor. Based upon this review, I recommend that the interim ground water criterion for 1,4-dioxane be revised to 0.35 ug/L.


We request that EPA and DEP take the following immediate site specific and longer term statewide actions:

1. Require treatment for Pompton Lakes drinking water supplies

According to a March 21, 2016 letter to residents from the Pompton Lakes Borough Municipal Utilities Authority (PLBMUA):

“Pompton Lakes last tested for [1,4-] dioxane in 2013 and had results ranging from 0.38 ug/L to 0.53 ug/L”

The levels detected exceed NJ DEP’s ISGWQS health based standard of 0.4 ug/L.

We urge EPA and DEP to act to require treatment to remove this chemical to below NJ DEP’s ISGWQS. We believe that existing cost effective treatment by granular activated carbon (GAC) should be installed immediately.

The PLBMUA did not identify the known or suspected source of 1,4,-dioxane detected in groundwater, which serves as source water. We urge EPA and DEP to immediately develop a work plan to track down the source of this contamination to our drinking water and require that the responsible party pay for all treatment and remedial costs.

2. Amend the Dupont/Chemours RCRA Corrective Action permit to require sampling, monitoring, and remediation to attain the ISGWQS

3. Amend the 1988 Dupont/Chemours Administrative Consent Order (ACO) with DEP to require sampling and remediation to attain the ISGWQS

4. EPA must apply NJ DEP ISGWQS at federal Superfund and RCRA sites in NJ

5. NJ DEP must develop a strategy to enforce the ISGWQS at all contaminated groundwater sites across NJ

6. NJ DEP should require treatment of all public water supplies where sampling of source water detected exceedences of the ISGWQS

EPA and NJ DEP have legal and moral responsibilities to protect public health.

We urge you to act immediately to reduce the known risk of 1,4, dioxane at all sites where is has been detected in groundwater or public water supplies.

We appreciate your timely and favorable response to these requests.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.