The Diamond Alkali factory in Newark, New Jersey produced the defoliant Agent Orange for use in the Vietnam War. Dioxin, a waste byproduct of the manufacturing process, was dumped unfiltered into the Passaic River for decades. After years of studies, court battles and finger pointing, New Jersey authorities are taking their first baby step towards removing the contaminated sludge from the river. On Monday, the EPA held a press conference where law makers, representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers and advocacy groups patted each other on the back for all the hard work they are doing.
Standing silently along the sidelines of the press conference was Walter Mugdan, EPA Region 2’s Director of the DEPP. Although he was not invited to speak along with dignitaries, he was kind enough to grant a video interview explaining some of the science behind the cleanup effort and the daunting next phases of the remediation of the lower Passaic River.