On March 4, 2010, Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. began filing complaints against E.I. DuPont and Royle Systems Group, on behalf of over 350 residents of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. This legal action is prompted by the defendants’ decision to allow a plume of hazardous chemicals emanating from DuPont’s Pompton Lakes Works explosives factory and from Royle’s manufacturing facility adjacent to the DuPont site to remain essentially untreated for decades. This callous disregard has harmed, and continues to threaten, the wellbeing and safety of area families.
“This is an enduring toxic legacy that spans decades,” said Lem Srolovic, an attorney in the Environmental and Toxic Torts Unit of Weitz & Luxenberg. “These corporations first mishandled and improperly disposed of dangerous chemicals; then, adding insult to injury, opted out of their responsibility to clean up those wastes.” As a result, added Srolovic, “The longstanding chemical contamination has now intruded into people’s homes, coming up through the soil as toxic vapors into people’s basements.”
Robin Greenwald, head of the Environmental and Toxic Torts Unit agrees. “Pompton Lakes families had the simple expectation that their environment—where they lived and worked—was free of toxins, but this was untrue, and these corporations knew as much. Because of the chemical vapor intrusion, many of the current and former residents of the contaminated area are at increased risk for health problems in the future.”
The four-count complaint alleges that DuPont and Royle Systems Group knew or should have known at least since the 1990s that the chlorinated solvents found in the groundwater posed impacted area of Pompton Lakes: carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-dichloroethane, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. Exposure to trichloroethylene is specifically associated with kidney cancer and exposure to tetrachloroethylene with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The report also found that residents in the affected area of Pompton Lakes have more than three times the rate of kidney cancer in women and more than 2.5 times the rate of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in men when compared to state-wide rates.
DuPont operated the factory, located at 2000 Cannonball Road, from 1902 until 1994, while an unreasonable risk of harm to people living in the area given the potential for vapor intrusion. Further, despite this clear understood danger, the Defendants took no meaningful steps to remove the risk of exposure or warn affected residents of the problem until 2008.
In fact, in September 1997, DuPont sent a letter to residents of Pompton Lakes falsely stating that there was no reason to be concerned about vapor intrusion. This is particularly disturbing given that breathing such chemical vapors inside impacted homes may result in an increased risk of cancer.
A report issued last December by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) and the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), concluded that six toxic chemicals originating from the DuPont property were found inside homes in the Royle operated its equipment manufacturing business from 1976 through 2009 on land adjacent to and formerly part of the DuPont site.
In the wake of their unchecked and reckless corporate pollution, residents of Pompton Lakes have become seriously ill and have watched the value of their homes plummet. Weitz & Luxenberg intends to protect the rights of Pompton Lakes families and send a clear message to polluters that betray such communities.
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