Residents of New Jersey Town Take on Chemical Company After Suspected Cancer Cluster Discovered

Residents of a northern New Jersey town — that was once home to a DuPont munitions plant – are taking on the chemical giant and making sure their voices are heard after a cancer cluster was uncovered.

Residents have formed an advocacy group called ‘Citizens for a Cleaner Pompton Lakes’ or CCPL.

Regina Sisco, a life-long resident of the town and president of CCPL, appeared on FOX & Friends Tuesday morning. When asked why mostly men in her town are dying at an incredible rate from kidney cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – she pointed to DuPont.

"It’s the fault of the DuPont Corporations weapons site," Sisco told Fox and Friends. "They stopped manufacturing in 1994 but for over 100 years they were operating on the site."

In June 2008, the company and the New Jersey state Department of Environmental Protection reported that chemicals that had migrated from the plant were sending toxic vapors up through the soil beneath 430 nearby homes.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., assumed responsibility and has been installing venting systems in the affected homes. So far, 166 have been installed. But, Lisa Riggiola, who is also a member of CCPL says it’s not enough.

"The soil groundwater and poisonous gases are seeping into our homes,” Riggiola said. "They have offered vapor mitigation systems, but unfortunately there numerous issues with these systems.”

The two chemicals linked to the contamination — trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene — have been linked to cancer in humans. But the state health department report said it could not conclusively link the higher cancer rates in Pompton Lakes and the chemicals because the cancer rates were not elevated for both men and women.

The solvents had been used at the factory in the northern end of the Passaic County town, which operated from the late 1800s until it was closed in 1994.

Riggiola, like many other residents, has been personally affected by this cluster. She lost her father to cancer when he was 62.

"He was the type of man who was never sick,” she said. “He went outside with a coat, worked hard every day and died of a rare leukemia and kidney renal failure."

Tom Carroll, a 17-year resident who found out in April that he had kidney cancer, worries about being able to sell his house.

"They probably should just have leveled the houses and turned the neighborhood into a golf course or something that wouldn't expose people 24 hours a day to the contamination," he said.

DuPont spokesman Robert C. Nelson said remediation efforts would continue "in a responsible and science-based manner that is protective to the environment and to the safety and health of residents."

As for Sisco and Riggiola, who are both mothers, the issue of toxic chemicals contaminating their town plagues them 24 hours a day.

"We live in constant fear that someday our kids are going to become ill," Sisco said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.