Time Limits to Cleanup Environmental Accidents

August 15, 2014 at 11:40 AM

The lives of thousands of Garden Staters are currently in jeopardy.

In 2008, over one-third of  Pompton Lakes residents received a letter telling them that poison gases were floating into their homes as the result of an environmental accident that occurred 30 years ago. These gases resulted in elevated cancer rates in the region. While many individuals would typically decide to move, these residents simply could not. Home buyers did not want to move into a contaminated neighborhood with high real estate taxes. Banks refused to even refinance mortgages for these tarnished homes. As a result, our neighbors are stuck in death traps because DuPont has failed to clean up its environmental mess in Pompton Lakes.

Let me give a little background. From 1886-1994, the DuPont Corporation operated a 500-acre munitions factory in Pompton Lakes. The factory utilized blasting ponds to set off explosives, eventually dumping the remnants into a river that emptied into Pompton Lake. These explosives contained numerous toxins and heavy metals, including mercury. These toxins are currently floating in Pompton Lake, a reserve reservoir for numerous communities in Northern New Jersey. As a result, both noxious gases and drinking water threaten the lives of local residents. Because of poor waste management procedures, DuPont endangered the lives and financial well-being of thousands of local residents and New Jerseyans.

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Shockingly, the law, federal and state, does not require a swift cleanup process. About six months ago, I attended an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meeting. At this meeting I asked whether or not there was a time frame in which companies were required to clean up environmental waste. I was utterly shocked to learn that there is no federal law limiting the amount of time that DuPont has to clean up the mess.

My first action in Congress will be to draft and pass a bill that mandates a 10 year maximum period to clean up environmental accidents. My bill will classify environmental accidents based on their severity and set a potentially lower maximum time limit based on this category. The EPA would determine the category and enforce the bill to ensure that the cleanup occurs in the mandated time-frame. If the culprit fails to comply, I will require them to pay heavy fines for their negligence. This is a reasonable solution to this never-ending problem.

The lives of New Jerseyans are more important than the potential expenses of the clean up. DuPont must act swiftly to clean up its mess. I will ensure that this irreparable disaster never happens again by enacting a law to hasten future cleanups.

I can assure you that if you vote for me, our nation will recover from environmental accidents, not suffer from their lingering consequences.

Mark Dunec is a professional problem-solver running for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. 

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