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Paulsboro Mayor Calls on West Deptford Chemical Manufacturer to Clean up Its Act

'Groundwater testing has confirmed' that Solvay Solexis 'has contaminated our public water supply,' said Jeffery Hamilton in an open letter to Paulsboro residents.

Solvay Solexis is a chemical manufacturer operating in West Deptford. Credit: Solvay.
Solvay Solexis is a chemical manufacturer operating in West Deptford. Credit: Solvay.
West Deptford chemical manufacturer Solvay Solexis has come under public scrutiny in neighboring Paulsboro, where local leaders have threatened legal action if the company doesn't address reports of chemicals in its drinking water.

A letter from Paulsboro Mayor W. Jeffery Hamilton blames the chemical company for allegedly polluting its groundwater and local waterways, and calls on Solvay Solexis to make restitution for any potential damages.

"Groundwater testing has confirmed that the Solvay Solexis facility in neighboring West Deptford has contaminated our public water supply with perfluorochemical compounds (PFCs)," Hamilton's letter reads.

"These PFCs have entered the Borough of Paulsboro's groundwater, have migrated to the Borough's public drinking supply wells, and permeate Mantua Creek and the Delaware River in adjoining Paulsboro," Hamilton wrote.

Hamilton's letter states that local leaders are posting right-to-know information for the residents of the community while they seek intercession from Governor Chris Christie through the state Departments of Health and Environmental Protection.

The letter calls on Solvay Solexis "to provide and fund alternate drinking water sources" even as it asks the DOH to perform blood tests of Paulsboro residents to determine any long-term effects.

Finally, the letter claims that the township has served legal notice to the company that it must pay to clean up drinking water and public waterways in Paulsboro "or the Borough will seek a court order forcing them to do so."

Threat known about since 2009

But that legal measure "occurred just before we were to have a meeting that we had scheduled with the Borough to discuss possible constructive paths forward," according to a statement provided by Solvay Solexis.

In response, the company postponed the meeting, according to its statement, but will continue to seek "a technical, solutions-oriented dialogue with Paulsboro about their drinking water system and quality sometime soon that serves everyone’s best interest."

Solvay Solexis downplayed the notion that the borough or neighboring communities are threatened by any imminent health risk, claiming its surprise "to suddenly see recent statements to this effect" since the water quality data cited by Hamilton's letter "has been known to Paulsboro since 2009."

However, the letter from Solvay Solexis acknowledges that water-quality samples taken from "one of three wells in Paulsboro" demonstrates elevated levels of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), for which "no U.S. regulatory agency has established any maximum allowable level or guideline for PFNA.

"We continue to meet with the NJDEP and other stakeholders to review the results," the letter notes.

Paulsboro residents are still feeling the effects of a chemical spill that struck in the borough in 2012, when a train derailment released vinyl chloride that some first responders say has caused chronic health problems.

Correction: An earlier draft of this story mistakenly reported that vinyl chloride was reportedly discovered in the drinking water in Paulsboro, which is inaccurate. 
zeke carey January 21, 2014 at 07:18 AM
Is Erin Brockovich still practicing law. it could mean millions for the townsfolk of Paulsboro. It's ironic that they complain about Solvay and yet they don't say anything about their refinery that every time you tuen around there is a release or spill.Go figure. Maybe they ought to check Johnson-Mathey they produce chemicals.
MissWendy January 21, 2014 at 07:34 AM
We need to have West Deptford's and Paulsboro's public drinking water tested ASAP!
zeke carey January 21, 2014 at 10:35 AM
why are they showing a picture of the cat unit at eagle point.
Occupant January 22, 2014 at 10:18 AM
The tainted water may account for the mood swings I've been experiencing lately. I've been having a tremendous distaste for politicians, especially Liberal Democrats. Hmmmm!
Nancy Barna January 26, 2014 at 08:36 AM
Again: http://www.epa.gov/region2/cleanup/sites/njtoc_name.htm
Harry Knowles January 28, 2014 at 02:42 PM
Correct Nancy, eagle point is a RCRA sight along with Huntsmen and solvey in West Deptford. Means the are locations that have responsible companies tgat have partnered to prove they are remediating. Unlike Matteo and Sons which is. NPL site which means it's on a priority list with the federal government to get cleaned up because it is a bigger hazard and the owners are not responsible owners. Why no hatred at them?

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