Out of Sight, Out of Mind: the Story of Groundwater Contamination in the Pohatcong Valley of Warren County, NJ
My name is Matthew Trochim, and at the time of writing I’m an undergrad senior at NJIT studying history. I’ve been born and raised in the town of Stewartsville, NJ, located in western Warren County. As for why I find myself attracted to this site, well, I’ve been living in it my entire life and I didn’t know it, so needless to say I felt a personal connection to the topic. It makes me wonder how many of my neighbors and friends have had no knowledge of the contamination under their feet and it makes me want to spread the word and to encourage people living outside my community to become aware of any current or potential future environmental problems around them.
Project Site Description:
The Pohatcong Valley is a geographic term rather than a political one. Several townships lie within the Pohatcong Valley including Washington, Franklin, and Greenwich(which Stewartsville is a part of), all locations affected by the contamination. This contamination, discovered by the EPA in 1978 and 1979, but lingering even to this day, can be traced back to two locations. The first, a former American National Can facility, is responsible for the release of trichloroethylene(TCE). The second, a former location of a company known as Tung-Sol Tubing, was responsible for the release of perchloroethylene(PCE). So if all of this was known in the late 70s, why were the earliest amelioration, not even cleanup yet, efforts not completed until 10 years after the contamination was discovered? Why is it that proper cleanup took decades to get under way? Why is it that communication with the public was so limited for so long? The inadequate cleanup and communication on part of the agencies that are supposed to be looking out for affected communities’ best interests is by no means limited to this particular site. If this kind of contamination and poorly communicated cleanup effort can happen in a wealthy, suburban area it can happen anywhere. Residents of poor or minority communities are well acquainted with having to live with the consequences of the environmental decisions of others. I want to let wealthy, suburban, and majority white communities know that they should care a lot more about these issues, because they aren’t safe either. People of all communities should be aware of and working to fix environmental issues, like the pollution in the ground in the Pohatcong Valley.
Water, Pollution, Toxics, Class, Community