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EPA to Remove Mercury from Bottom of Pompton Lake in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey

Release Date: 12/19/2012
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced its plan to remove mercury contamination from the sediment of the Acid Brook Delta of Pompton Lake in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey to levels that meet stringent standards to protect people’s health and the environment. The plan will go into effect as a modification of a permit, which legally requires the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc. to fund and perform the work. Under the permit modification, the EPA will require DuPont to dredge at least 100,000 cubic yards of mercury contaminated sediment from the bottom of a 40-acre area of Pompton Lake and remove at least 7,800 cubic yards of contaminated soil from a shoreline area of the lake affected by DuPont’s past discharges. All of the sediment and soil will be sent to a licensed disposal facility.

      Mercury in the sediment and soil can build up in the tissue of fish and other wildlife and pose a threat to people who eat them. Exposure to mercury can damage people’s nervous systems and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune systems.

      “The removal of mercury-contaminated sediment from Pompton Lake is a major step toward the recovery of the lake and the protection of people’s health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The expanded dredging and other revisions in the final cleanup plan reflect the EPA’s commitment to protecting public health and improving environmental quality in Pompton Lakes.”

      In November 2011, the EPA proposed a preliminary permit modification to remove contaminated sediment from the bottom of Pompton Lake and encouraged the public to comment on it. A public hearing on the proposed permit modification was held in January 2012. The final permit modification announced today incorporates changes that were made in response to comments from the public and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and additional technical information received from DuPont after the proposed permit modification was issued. A public meeting to discuss the permit modification for the Acid Brook Delta of Pompton Lakes will be held on January 15, 2013.

      Under the final permit modification, the area of sediment that will be removed has been expanded by approximately 35% and sediment sampling is required to identify additional areas of the lake that may require the removal of mercury-contaminated sediment. In addition, DuPont is required to implement long-term monitoring of the effectiveness of the dredging, restore the soil between Lakeside Avenue and the edge of the lake, and perform an ecological risk assessment to determine whether additional action may be needed in the future. DuPont will be required to develop work plans for these requirements, which must be submitted to the EPA for approval. The cleanup will be financed and conducted by DuPont with EPA oversight.

      The E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc. operated the Pompton Lakes Works facility, located at 2000 Cannonball Road, from 1902 to April 1994. Products manufactured at the facility included explosive powder containing mercury and lead, detonating fuses, electric blasting caps, metal wires and aluminum and copper shells. The manufacturing operations and waste management practices contaminated soil, sediment and ground water both on and off-site. Lead and mercury from its operations were released into Acid Brook, which flows through the eastern part of the facility and discharges into the Acid Brook Delta of Pompton Lake. DuPont’s operations also contaminated the ground water with chlorinated volatile organic compounds, such as tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, cis 1,2-dichloroethylene and vinyl chloride.

      The cleanup of the Acid Brook Delta requires a modification of the permit under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The final permit modification will become effective on February 4, 2013 pending any requests for appeal submitted prior to that date.

      Plans to clean up the remaining areas of contamination will be proposed through future permit modifications after ongoing investigations by DuPont have been completed and reviewed by the EPA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Opportunities for public participation will continue to be provided through regular updates, public notices and public meetings.

      The permit modification and relevant documents are available at the EPA’s project website at: http://www.epa.gov/region02/waste/dupont_pompton/index.html.

      The public also can review documents related to the permit modification and cleanup at:
      Pompton Lakes Public Library
      333 Wanaque Avenue, Pompton Lakes, New Jersey
      (973) 835-0482
      http://www.pomptonlakeslibrary.org/index.htm

      Technical and legal documents related to the proposed cleanup, including the existing permit and proposed permit modification, can be reviewed Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM at:
      EPA RCRA Records Center
      290 Broadway, 15th Floor, Room 1538
      New York, NY 10007-1866
      (212) 637-3043

      Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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