Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dredging Plan for Pompton Skips Hot Spots

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dredging Plan for Pompton Skips Hot Spots

Article excerpt

The federal government has proposed making DuPont dredge contaminated sediment from nearly 40 acres of Pompton Lake, but the new proposal does not include cleanup of contaminated hot spots along three miles of the Ramapo River.

The plan calls for DuPont to dredge about 128,000 cubic yards of sediment - more than 10,600 dump trucks' worth -- and send it to a licensed disposal facility. The contaminants, which are mercury and lead, flowed into the lake from Acid Brook, which runs through DuPont's former munitions facility in Pompton Lakes.

Most of the sediment would be dredged from a 36-acre portion of the lake bed where the Acid Brook flows into the lake. Two other portions of lake bottom near the shoreline would also be addressed, one of about half an acre and the other about 2.5 acres.

In addition, the plan calls for DuPont to remove contaminated soil from a shoreline area near Acid Brook and replace it with clean soil. A long-term monitoring plan would be designed and implemented to assess the lake after the cleanup.

But the Environmental Protection Agency plan does not require DuPont to clean up some other hot spots along several miles of the Ramapo River, which runs through the lake and over a dam south toward the Passaic River.

EPA spokeswoman Mary Mears said that DuPont has conducted sampling of the Ramapo hot spots, but the EPA has not received the data yet, so it can't determine what cleanup would be needed.

Since that Ramapo data won't be ready until early 2015, the EPA decided not to address it in the plan for the lake bed it released Thursday, so that the cleanup of the lake itself would not be delayed, Mears said.

"Our hope is that we can get this lake bed permit finalized by early in 2015, so that work might possibly begin next fall," she said. "We know a lot of people want the cleanup done sooner rather than later."

She said that the Ramapo River hot spots, while not addressed in the current plan, could be addressed in the future. "We certainly could require some cleanup work," Mears said.

The 200-acre Pompton Lake is bordered by Pompton Lakes, Oakland and Wayne and is sometimes used as a backup source to replenish a major reservoir that supplies water to many towns in Bergen and Passaic counties. The lake has been used by residents for boating and fishing, though it is so contaminated that they are warned not to eat their catch.

The EPA wants DuPont to remove the contaminated sediment because mercury can build up in the tissue of fish and other wildlife, causing a health risk to people who eat them. Exposure to mercury can damage the nervous system and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system.

The EPA originally wanted DuPont to clean up 68,000 cubic yards of sediment across 26 acres of the lake, but when a study found that mercury had spread past the lake's dam and migrated downstream, the agency revised its plan, calling for removal of 100,000 cubic yards of sediment across 40 acres of lake bottom, as well as studying sediment from the hot spots downstream along the Ramapo. …

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