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Bergen Record Writes Another Whitewash Of Dupont Pompton Lakes

It’s a beautiful day here in the deserts of Arizona (80 degrees and sunny) and I’m dying to get outside this Starbucks (WiFi), so I will be very brief with this note.

Jim O’Neill of the Bergen Record (is it still called that?) wrote a story today on the Natural Resource Damage issues associated with Dupont Pompton Lakes.

I’m reluctant to provide a link and drive traffic there, but I must do so to make my point, so see:

 Feds seeking payout for impact of DuPont pollution on wildlife in Pompton Lakes

I broke this story and have written about it several times, including detailed analyses – using US FWS documents – which show major failures by Dupont, EPA, DEP and the Bergen Record coverage, mostly by Mr. O’Neill. I’ll dig up all those links later – in the interim, readers should feel free to use the word search function in the upper right corner of this page. (or check out my Twitter feed, where I tweeted links to most of that stuff in response to prior “Toxic Secrets” coverage).

For now, I will note the following to summarize the major issues that were ignored, what  I call a “whitewash”.

O’Neill failed to mention that:

1. USFWS was severely critical of Dupont’s science (that EPA signed off on) and

2. USFWS criticized the EPA approved cleanup plan because it left significant amounts of mercury in the lake and likely downriver.

3. Despite a written pledge by EPA Region 2 Administrator Enck in a letter to me, EPA violated RCRA regulations because those regulations require that EPA consult with US FWS BEFORE approving the cleanup plan.

EPA failed to do that and only consulted with US FWS AFTER they approved Dupont’s flawed plan.

4. Although O’Neill mentions the prior DEP NRD dirty deal (which residents and local Councilpersons Lisa Riggiola and Ed Meakem broke with my help), and notes that it could be re-opened by DEP (a quote I made years ago in O’Neill’s the Record’s original story I think by Alex Nussbaum), he fails to provide the corrupt context for that deal.

That context was a STATEWIDE deal with Dupont executed by former DEP Commissioner Brad Campbell.

These are very serious factual omissions in the story.

These facts are omitted because they:

1) destroy the Record’s narrative as conducting brave investigative journalism – with O’Neill and Fallon speaking truth to power (NOT! gag me!)

2) because they undermine the Record’s praise of EPA Administrator Enck,

3) because they would expose the fact that the Record MISSED or DOWNPLAYED these issues when it mattered;


5) because they show that the Record (O’Neill & Fallon) were either lazy, stupid, arrogant, lap dog, risk averse, or flat out intimidated by Dupont, EPA, DEP and local officials to write the story correctly the first time, and therefore disrespected their readers and gave those responsible a huge pass by not criticizing them when it matter (like I did)

One of these days I’ll write a critique of their entire “Toxic Secrets” series on Dupont, when I get the time.

In the interim, take my word for it –

they are so full of shit in blowing their own horn on a story they missed for many years, that they downplayed, and that they were intimidated by Dupont and gave EPA and DEP and local officials a huge accountability pass.

They should go back and read Dusty MacNichol and Kelly Richmond’s award winning “Open For Business” series – and consider that those real investigative reporters were brave enough to expose the corruption of Gov. Whitman’s core policy, at a time she was hugely popular.

They didn’t write some after the fact, self promoting, whitewash.

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