Monday, October 24, 2016

New wastewater treatment for Pompton Lake dredging

   The EPA is again removing contaminated sediment from the Pompton Lake

James M. O'Neil reports for The Record:

As part of its ongoing cleanup of contaminated sediment in Pompton Lake, Chemours is moving ahead with a more complicated way to treat wastewater to ensure it doesn’t have elevated levels of pollutants before it gets pumped back into the lake.

The company, which was spun off from DuPont last year, has received permission from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to use a series of chemicals to treat the water that it squeezes out of dredged sediment from the lake.

When the project started, the water removed from the sediment was being treated mechanically to let particles with contamination settle out. But when the company tested the water, it still had elevated levels of mercury, copper and organic carbon.

So Chemours stopped pumping the treated water back into the lake. It brought in an extra storage tank to hold the water it squeezed from dredged sediment until it could develop the improved treatment process. With the extra tank in place, dredging the contaminated sediment continued without disruption.

The more complicated process will treat the water with a series of “food-grade” chemicals, said Perry Katz, remedial project manager with the Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the cleanup.

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.

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