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Resident Pushes for Study of Wampum Lake

Previous studies say that Wampum Lake is the most polluted in the county, but so far no one has proved how it got that way.

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."

Sal November 11, 2011 at 12:24 PM
The US Constitution is very clear "No ex-post facto" (AFTER the FACt) laws can be enforced. IF the pollution of the lake or streams feeding it took place in the years BEFORE environmental laws prohibiting such acts were written and on the books___then attempts for recover compensation for clean up costs would be hopeless, since it may have been done prior to the existence of the pollution laws.
Sal November 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM
The Clean Water Act did NOT EXIST before 1972, thus dumping into the stream or lake that took place prior to 1972 were LEGAL acts long ago at that time prior to the existence of the CWA. So not only would they have to prove who the responsible party is___but also 'when' it was done. The no ex-post facto laws clause of the US Constitution prevents enforcement of the Clean Water Act dating back to BEFORE the CWA existed.
Itchy Foot Moe November 11, 2011 at 02:58 PM
""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." Dulgosz might be a scientist but I question his ability of basic map reading. Anyone can open up a Google map these days and zoom right in on several businesses at the head of Wampum that have potential for polluting the lake and it's tributaries, (Including TWO borough public works yards, two railroad equipment storage yards, a yard that has mountains of dirt and junk containing deity-knows-what and a paving company), but nah, lets blame the Army which has two locations farther away than those, one of them downstream, and another over half a mile away. It would be interesting to see the test results of the lakes located in the golf course which are upstream from all of the closer locations I mentioned too.
Ed Dlugosz November 13, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Those EPA- or NJDEP-cited polluters have put bad stuff in the water and no doubt/no question into the Wampum Lake. In our initial analysis we had to limit looking for polluters who put a specific 13 heavy metals--Antimony, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Selenium, Silver, Thallium, and Zinc--in the Wampum Lake because those were the only toxins that were tested for by the Health Dept and Monmouth U. We also looked for industries/contributors who use the HMs as a product component or byproduct of their processes. It's great that you mentioned the golf course because the northern branch of the Wampum Brook tributary cuts directly across the Suneagles GC & is directly downstream--with no other possible outside contributors--from the R&D and fabrication/production facilities of CWA. The Army reported at a sediment testing location at the eastern edge of the SGC that they found 20 heavy metals, 5 VOCs, 21 SVOCs, and 2 Pesticides. Our proposed study will be comprehensive to not only look for those 13 heavy metals but the full 30+ metals test suite. Army records show that they put 21 heavy metals in the groundwater, surface water, and sediments. Our proposed study will also seek out Volatile Organic Compounds like PERC & TCE, Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds like benzenes & PAHs, and pesticides like 4,4'-DDD & Chlordane. When and if the study is funded, we will also point out those other contributors with pleasure.

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