Sunday, May 14, 2017

NJ neighbors fear cleanup will flood basements with toxics

James M. O'Neill reports for The Record

Some North Jersey residents who live above one of the largest vapor intrusion sites in the country are so worried about a proposal to flush away the contaminated groundwater beneath their homes by pumping clean water into the ground that they have lobbied the state to hold a public hearing on the plan.

The groundwater under about 450 homes in Pompton Lakes is contaminated with PCE and TCE, cancer-causing solvents that were dumped at a DuPont munitions facility decades ago and spread through groundwater to the adjacent neighborhood.

In 2008, officials discovered the solvents were vaporizing up through the soil in some of the basements in the area.

The pilot test will involve a process called hydraulic surcharging, to see if pumping clean water into the ground at various points in the neighborhood can dilute or flush out the contamination.

Residents are worried that pumping more water into the ground will raise the water table enough to flood their basements with contaminated water, bringing more pollution into their homes.

And after talking with a number of insurance companies, residents say they would not be able to obtain homeowners insurance policies that would cover damages that could occur from this sort of project.

“I don’t think hydraulic surcharging is the answer,” said Lisa Riggiola, a former borough councilwoman and member of a residents' advocacy group. “There are better ways to tackle this.”

The group sent a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection requesting a public hearing. Riggiola said she was told the request will be granted, but no date has been set.

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