FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SEPTEMBER 26, 2017
POMPTON LAKES RESIDENTS OVERWHELMINGLY REJECT DUPONT WORKS HORIZONTAL WELL PILOT STUDY PROPOSAL FOR CONTAMINATED GROUNDWATER CLEANUP
Lisa Riggiola, CCPL’s Executive Director, PLCAG Board Member: 973-979-4392 or firstname.lastname@example.org Jefferson LaSala, PLREI’s Media Liason, PLCAG Board Member: 973-839-9317 or email@example.com
Pompton Lakes, New Jersey — The Pompton Lakes Community Advisory Group (PLCAG), Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes (CCPL), Pompton Lakes Residents for Environmental Integrity (PLREI), and dozens of residents have voiced serious concerns about DuPont/Chemours’ plan to construct a horizontal well behind their homes in an effort to “flush out” areas of elevated VOC concentrations within the shallow aquifer using treated groundwater from the existing groundwater treatment system on the contaminated site. NJDEP is hosting a public hearing tonight, September 26, 2017, from 7 pm – 9 pm at the Carnevale Center at Saint Mary’s located at 10 Lenox Avenue in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Dozens of community members are expected to testify against this permit request.
“We need to be reassured that we will be protected if something goes wrong with hydraulic surcharge work plan,” said resident and PLCAG Board Member Helen Martens.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) public hearing notice, Chemours Company (formerly DuPont) applied for a Discharge to Groundwater Permit-by-Rule application to discharge treated groundwater from an existing groundwater treatment system at the former DuPont Pompton Lakes Works site. They propose to construct a 1,400-foot horizontal well along the southern side of the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway Corporation track, located south of and running parallel to Barbara Drive, at a depth of 20 to 25 feet below grade.
“The VOC wastewater from DuPont's pump and treat system will travel through the toxic plume neighborhoods and be dumped it into Pompton Lake, a the Reserve Reservoir for millions of residents in whom reside in our watershed,” stated Lisa Riggiola, CCPL Executive Director and PLCAG Board Member. “Moving the VOC wastewater from one location through a pipe 20 feet underground which will be located right next to railroad tracks where trains travel routinely is a huge risk. It will NOT cleanup Pompton Lakes.”
The possibility of flooding from the well into their backyards and water seepage into their basements is another major concern. The proposed pilot study claims that water would be discharged at a rate of 120 and 140 gallons per minute, surcharging would increase the groundwater flow in the higher permeability interval of the local shallow aquifer, and it would run for a duration of about one year.
“Their model includes many assumptions and raw data that is not disclosed to the public in the pilot study plan,” explains Dana Patterson, PLCAG Board Member. “We have no idea if they are assuming that infiltration will occur homogeneously along the pipe, or if some areas experience much higher flow. This information is absolutely critical.”
Residents worry that the added water pressure and rise of water table could affect homes and infrastructure. They are calling for water level sensors deployed in monitoring wells to continuously monitor water levels in order to confirm that water levels will not be impacted by this effort. To establish a baseline, residents are also calling for an evaluation of the vapor mitigation system performance before the pilot effort begins.
“As a homeowner one house away from the railroad tracks ― where the well will be installed ― I am fearful that my home will flood. There is no policy available to cover myself or reassurance of an insurance policy from USEPA or DuPont,” explained Cheryl Rubino, homeowner and PLCAG Board Member.
If an incident were to occur, many of the residents do not qualify for flood insurance. So far, Dupont/Chemours has declined homeowner’s requests for insurance options to protect homes and will not be held responsible for any flooding as a result of this study. Many are demanding answers from NJDEP and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as to the safety and viability of this project.
“The polluter and the NJDEP keep referring to this formal work project as a study, as if residents are just lab rats. People should be provided with safe housing and financial assurance that their homes will not be affected,” said Jefferson LaSala, PLREI Media Liaison and PLCAG Board Member. “Between the potential for flooding, damage to residents’ homes and health, the proximity to the railroad tracks and the Ramapo Fault to the horizontal well, in addition to the polluter’s complete lack of cooperation in providing insurance and a formal contingency plan, this project should not even be approved in its current form.”
This area of Pompton Lakes is sitting right on top of the Ramapo Fault, which forms the boundary between the Highlands and Piedmont Provinces. According to a February 2015 Passaic County Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 Hazard Mitigation Plan Update for Passaic County, the Ramapo fault is “the most seismically active fault in the region”. It continues, “The probability of damaging earthquakes affecting Passaic County is low. However, there is a definite threat of major earthquakes that could cause widespread damage and casualties in the County and throughout New Jersey.” Furthermore, the report discusses the link between increased earthquake activity and climate change, stating that, “Secondary impacts of earthquakes could be magnified by future climate change. Soils saturated by repetitive storms could experience liquefaction during seismic activity because of the increased saturation.”
“How would a natural disaster such as an earthquake affect the horizontal well? What will be the impact on water and gas lines, since we are on the Ramapo Fault? This is an experimental pilot study, which means there is no guarantee that it will actually work. It puts us all at risk,” Riggiola continues. “We outright reject this shoddy plan.”
Pompton Lakes Community Advisory Group [PomptonLakesCAG.org] is a citizen-organized action group that meets bi-monthly to provide residents with real answers and technical assistance regarding the Pompton Lakes DuPont Works cleanup. Pompton Lakes Residents for Environmental Integrity [PLREI.org] is a nonprofit grassroots organization committed to promoting a clean environment, educating and involving residents, resolving environmental and health issues and improving the quality of life in our community. Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes [TheCCPL.org] is a grassroots nonprofit organization that provides environmental education, data, and scientific assistance in a charitable way to and for the health and welfare of the public. CCPL is committed to understanding, addressing, and resolving environmental issues affecting the Pompton Lakes community.