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Polluted New Jersey town sues DuPont for $1.1 billion

Near the eastern edge of the Delaware Memorial Bridge is the small township of Carneys Point, New Jersey, a town of around 8,000 people. The lawsuit filed on December 12 in Salem County Superior Court involves cleanup of the Chambers Work Site, where Teflon was invented in 1938, according to Courthouse News.

The lawsuit alleges that DuPont sold a local chemical complex to avoid paying nearly $1 billion in remediation needed to clean up nearly a century’s worth of pollution. The site called Chambers Works is where a chemical used in the non-stick coating in Teflon was made.

Dupont began using the Pennsville site in 1892, at that time making gunpowder, then transformed the site into the 1,400-acre chemical manufacturing complex where numerous hazardous chemicals were used, including mercury, benzene and ethyl chloride.

The result was the dumping of over 100 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the soil, contaminating groundwater from the late 19th century until the 1970s. The chemicals dumped affected residential areas as far as two miles away. Other products made at the site included synthetic rubber and plastic, as well as lead used in no-knock gasoline.

There have been several attempts to clean up the site over the years, including one that involved the Department of Energy in 1996. But the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says it will take at least 999 years to return groundwater in the area to potable, safe levels.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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