Pompton Lakes Works Site
2000 Cannonball Road, Pompton Lakes, New Jersey
NJDEP PI# 007411
USEPA ID# NJD002173946
The Pompton Lakes Works (PLW) manufacturing site covers 576 acres in the boroughs of Pompton Lakes and Wanaque in Passaic County, New Jersey. A residential area of the town of Pompton Lakes lies to the south and southeast of the former plant site.
The former manufacturing facility produced blasting caps and other explosives over a 92-year period, including for the U.S. Government in World Wars I and II. Manufacturing operations at PLW ceased in 1994. During the site’s operations, chemicals were used during the manufacturing processes to degrease and clean machines and metal parts. As a result, some of the chemicals used during the processes were spilled onto the ground.
To address off-site migration of contaminated groundwater as a result of chemicals contaminating the groundwater, a comprehensive groundwater-monitoring program was implemented in the 1990s. Groundwater has been routinely sampled and results are reported for on and offsite well locations to the regulatory agencies. A groundwater extraction/treatment system was installed in August 1998 to contain groundwater onsite. Pumping draws water towards six onsite wells which is then piped to a treatment system. Following treatment, the water is returned to the water table.
As part of a March 2008 investigation, overseen by representatives from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sub-slab vapor samples were collected from the soil beneath several homes in the local community to determine if the potential for vapor intrusion was present. Investigation results indicated that two VOCs, tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) were present in the soil vapor above screening criteria, indicating that additional studies were needed to determine if vapors were entering homes in the area. As defined by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Vapor Intrusion refers to the movement of volatile chemicals (VOCs – volatile organic compounds) from below the ground surface into overlying buildings.
In May 2008, as a result of the initial investigation, NJDEP and EPA approved a work plan to install a vapor mitigation system to address the potential soil vapor pathway and potential vapor intrusion. The vapor mitigation system is similar to a radon mitigation system and will prevent vapors from entering a home. A vacuum is applied below the foundation of the home and the vapors are vented outside of the home. These systems are highly effective and have been proven to work in thousands of homes across the United States. The goal is to install a safe system at no cost and with as little inconvenience to homeowners as possible.
USEPA issued a modification to the Pompton Lakes Works facility RCRA permit on June 22, 2015 to remove mercury impacted soils and sediment from Pompton Lake. The remedy encompassed four areas consisting of approximately 40 acres. The areas identified in the permit modification included upland soils between Rotary Park and the lake, the lake bottom adjacent to Rotary Park, and the lake bottom at two downstream locations. This work was completed during 2016 through 2018 in accordance with the USEPA-approved Corrective Measures Implementation Work Plan.
The 570-acre PLW site is located in the boroughs of Pompton Lakes and Wanaque in central Passaic County in northern New Jersey. The site consists of northeast trending ridges and valleys containing two major drainage areas, Wanaque River (formerly Lake Inez) on the west and Acid Brook on the east. Lake Inez was drained and now consists of a river bordered by a swampy area. An intermittent stream, Acid Brook, flows south through the site, meanders through the town of Pompton Lakes, and empties into Pompton Lake. The site is bordered to the northeast and east by Ramapo State Forest (deciduous forest and some deciduous wooded wetlands), to the south by the town of Pompton Lakes (industrial, commercial/services, and residential land use), and to the west and northwest by Twin Lake Valley commercial/services and residential land use) and town of Haskell.
Although the entire site encompasses approximately 570 acres, the active manufacturing portion was contained in a much smaller area. Operations consisted of manufacturing of primary explosives mercury fulminate and lead azide blasting caps, military products (e.g., incendiary and tracer bullets and hand grenades), smokeless powder, aluminum and bronze shell making, and wire drawing operations. Operations generated a variety of explosives and explosive products until April 1994, when the plant was closed. Wastes generated as a result of manufacturing primarily consisted of lead salts, mercury compounds, chlorinated solvents, waste wire drawing solution, and detonated off-specification blasting caps.
Preliminary investigations conducted from 1981 through 1986 identified chlorinated solvents in groundwater. As a result, an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) was entered into with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) in 1988. The ACO required that a remedial investigation be conducted that addresses contamination at/or emanating from the site. Residual waste materials or potential impact from historic manufacturing have been identified at 202 areas for further investigation at the PLW site.
The PLW site has contributed to a variety of efforts to support the needs of the local community.
- In Pompton Lakes, a federal grant to the Pompton Lakes Historic Preservation Commission was matched to fund a cultural and historical survey as part of the group’s mission to preserve the history of Pompton Lakes.
- Pompton Lakes Works also established the Henry Edwin Allen Scholarship award in the mid 1990s to be given annually to a deserving high school senior. The scholarship is a tribute to Ed Allen, a former supervisor at the Pompton Lakes Works site who was also the site historian, an extraordinary storyteller and an excellent public speaker.
- The site supports the Pompton Lakes business improvement district and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
- A $75,000 grant was given to the Pompton Lakes school district to support middle- and high school-level science educational activities.