Sierra Club: Murphy Sells Our Pompton Lakes- Blocks Superfund Designation

Murphy Sells Our Pompton Lakes- Blocks Superfund Designation

Governor Phil Murphy’s administration has no plans to seek Superfund status to speed cleanup of a contaminated plume and former DuPont munitions site in Pompton Lakes, despite pleas for such action from many residents who must live with the cancer-causing pollution. DEP Commissioner, Catherine McCabe, says that making the site a Superfund Site would slow things down and there is no need to involve Superfund when there is a polluter is paying for cleanup.

“In a shameful turnaround, the Murphy Administration is opposing Superfund designation to the former Dupont Site in Pompton Lakes. The administration has turned their backs on the residents of Pompton Lakes by opposing to list the site on the Superfund list for a full cleanup of the site. We thought with Christie gone, things would be different, and the people of Pompton Lakes would get the full cleanup they deserve. But the Murphy Administration completely walked away from their responsibility to protect those homes from vapor intrusion and the state is not requiring the cleanup of groundwater that has contaminated those homes and causing the vapors to rise. In the toxic plume residential neighborhoods, there are elevated cancer rates. The toxic water they are pumping out could even end up in people’s homes, basements, or flooding the streets,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.” “Governor Murphy called the site horrifying and had promised to visit the site. He was supposed to meet with the community and talk about their needs and their suffering, but he didn’t. Instead he is now blocking the site from going on the Superfund list. The Murphy Administration are siding with DuPont over the people of Pompton Lakes who have been suffering for decades from the legacy of DuPont’s chemical wasteland.”

For decades, the residents who in live Pompton Lakes have been suffering from the legacy of DuPont’s chemical wasteland, which consists of 202 areas of concern directly adjacent to their homes, a lead and mercury laden lake, and a poisonous plume of vapor gases rising up into 450+ basements.  Since 2011, residents have been asking for three very critical actions, which have been ignored by the previous administration and now ignored by the Murphy Administration.

“DEP mishandled the site for years and have the health of 450 families at risk who are living in on toxic plume. Commissioner McCabe is now relying on DuPont to clean up their mess even though they have failed to do so in two decades. DuPont only wants to clean up part of the mess so they can develop on the property; they don’t care if the neighbors get stuck with the chemicals. DEP must do its job and EPA exert its oversight authority to force a real clean-up before more people are put at risk. DuPont told residents that their homes would be safe in five years,” said Tittel. “The residents are being exposed to potentially deadly and cancer-causing agents. The DEP has completely sold out the people of Pompton Lakes and are letting DuPont get away for the mess they made. DEP’s plan for Pompton Lakes shows they are really the Pompton Fakes because they are siding with DuPont over the people.”

The Murphy Administration has not been proactive on the clean-up of the DuPont site in Pompton Lakes. When asked about it during the budget hearing, Acting DEP Commissioner McCabe seemed to blame the victims while claiming satisfaction at the efforts to deal with the toxic vapors. DuPont’s contamination affected multiple waterways in Pompton Lakes, including the Wanaque River and Acid Brook, which run through the 600-acre former DuPont property. Pompton Lake, a backup drinking water supply for a major reservoir in the region, has also been affected.

“It’s not a surprise that McCabe has come out against Superfund. Not only did she blame the homeowners in her testimony in front of the Budget Committee, for not dealing with the vapor intrusion, but she claimed that the clean-up was working.  Her misleading statements on the Pompton Lakes clean-up are troubling and sounded like the Christie Administration. In reality, Pompton Lakes is still suffering from decades of pollution from DuPont and the plume is still under homes. DuPont wants to use an experimental technique on the communities of the region,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is another commitment Murphy has broken, from Exxon to Clean Energy. It is outrageous that Murphy didn’t even sit down with the community before blocking the site from being on the Superfund list.  Perhaps if he did, he would realize that the Pompton Lakes site’s toxic threat is more than double the score required for Superfund designation. We battled the DEP for years of this site and we will continue to battle the DEP and Governor Murphy until this site is fully cleaned up.”

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