Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

EPA Hits Snag in Pompton Cleanup

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

EPA Hits Snag in Pompton Cleanup

Article excerpt

Water that had been squeezed out of contaminated sediment, treated and then pumped back into a section of Pompton Lake this month still ended up with levels of pollution that were higher than the state allows, adding another hurdle to a long-delayed cleanup project that began two weeks ago.

The water had elevated levels of mercury, copper and organic carbon.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the cleanup, found there is nothing to indicate the polluted water poses any threat to human health, EPA spokesman David Kluesner said Wednesday.

Chemours, the company responsible for cleaning up the lake's contaminated sediment, is trying to figure out how to better treat the water. The company has brought in an extra storage tank to hold water from dredged sediment until it can improve treatment and start pumping the water into the lake again.

With the extra tank in place, dredging the contaminated sediment can continue without disruption, Kluesner said.

The three-year, nearly $50 million dredging operation will ultimately remove 130,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the lake bottom. The contamination comes from the former DuPont munitions facility in Pompton Lakes and Wanaque. The pollution was carried to the lake from Acid Brook, which flows through the old DuPont site. The facility operated from 1902 to 1994, making blasting caps, metal wires and aluminum and copper ammunition shells for the U.S. military.

The EPA wants the sediment removed because a toxic form of mercury can build up in fish, posing a health risk to people who eat them. Exposure to mercury can damage the human nervous system and harm the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs and immune system.

The dredging began Aug 31 after years of studies, reports, delays and conflicts involving the EPA, residents and DuPont.

The 200-acre Pompton Lake, bordered by Pompton Lakes, Wayne and Oakland, is a backup source to replenish a key reservoir that supplies drinking water to towns in Bergen and Passaic counties. …

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