Eatontown resident Ed Dlugosz believes the Army is responsible for the pollution of Wampum Lake and wants to launch a study to prove it.
Dlugosz, a member of the (RAB) for Fort Monmouth's redevelopment and the environmental staff advisory committee of the (FMERA), addressed the Borough Council on the topic Wednesday after a Patch story revealed that .
Federal law requires that the Army clean up any environmental messes it makes. Dlugosz, chairman of the Eatontown Environmental Commission, said if Eatontown wants the Army to clean up Wampum Lake it's going to have to prove the Army polluted the lake, which lies just outside Fort Monmouth property.
"It's more fun to talk about bringing in business ... but all that is going to be stymied if this isn't taken care of," Council President Anthony Talerico said.
According to Dlugosz, who has been working on the issue for the past five years, the pollution of Wampum Lake is well documented. Dlugosz said that in 1990 the Monmouth County Health Department did a survey of 20 lakes, Wampum being one of them. Their study, which was not aimed at assessing the cause of pollution, found that the lake contained all 13 heavy metals it tested for, 10 of them exceeding the severe effects level. Wampum Lake's cumulative score for contaminants made it the most polluted lake in the county.
That study was followed by another independent study done by Dr. Donald Dorfman of then Monmouth College. Dorfman sampled tissue from lake fish and found 13 carcinogenic heavy metals, Dlugosz said. It was after these studies that Eatontown put signs up at the lake warning against eating fish caught there.
More study is needed, Dlugosz said, to show how the contaminants got into the lake and he is hoping to team up with a university to conduct independent tests in the lake and the two brooks which feed it.
Once that data is analyzed, Dlugosz hopes to be able to point the finger at a specific polluter and force it to clean the lake. He estimates the cost of such a study at $50,000.
Dlugosz said the key aspect of the study will be tracing metal contaminants to their specific uses.
According to Dlugosz, the Army has in the past blamed the lake's pollution on a company called Metallurgical Industries, which is now out of business. But according to documents from the Environmental Protection Agency, which Dlugosz cited, Metallurgical Industries was found to have only dumped into the public sewage treatment system and never into local waters.
Dlugosz and Sara Breslow, who lives on Lake Drive next to Wampum Lake, have been searching tax records and reading local history to see if there was ever another business located in the area that could have been responsible for this kind of heavy metal pollution. So far, Dlugosz said they haven't found one.
"If the irrefutable proof points to someone other than the fort, I'll be surprised," Dlugosz said. "But that would be OK. After all, I'm a scientist."