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 Post subject: NJ Lawmakers Oppose Capping Mine Shafts at Ringwood
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:04 pm 
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This is from House.gov and was actually released Dec. 11, 2006:

CONGRESSMAN FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Sixth District of New Jersey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Andrew Souvall
December 11, 2006
or Heather Lasher Todd (202) 225-4671

NEW JERSEY LAWMAKERS OPPOSE CAPPING MINE SHAFTS AT RINGWOOD SUPERFUND SITE

Urge EPA to Remediate Contaminated Water Near Mine Shafts

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and U.S. Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Alan Steinberg voicing serious concerns that the federal agency might allow the Ford Motor Company to cap mine shafts at the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site rather than require the company to clear out contaminated material.

The three New Jersey lawmakers urged EPA to fully remediate the groundwater around the mine shafts and to investigate whether sinkholes that have opened near the Cooper Mine pit are related to excavation work that is now being conducted by Ford Motor Company's contractor.

A copy of the New Jersey lawmakers' letter follows.

December 11, 2006
Mr. Alan Steinberg
Regional Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region II
290 Broadway
New York, NY 10007

Dear Regional Administrator Steinberg:

We are writing to express our serious concerns about the possibility that your agency would consider allowing Ford Motor Company and its contractors to cap the mine shafts at the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site rather than completely clearing out contaminated material. We also would like to urge that you remediate the contaminated groundwater found around the mine shafts and investigate whether recent sinkholes that have opened up near the Cooper Mine pit are related to excavation work done by Ford's contractor, Arcadis.

We appreciate your response to our prior letter requesting an investigation of the mine shafts but urge you to proceed with cleanup activities in the most comprehensive manner possible. As you know, Ford's early dumping activities at the site included placing truckloads of paint sludge and other waste in unused mine shafts. It is not clear either how extensive those mine shafts are or how much sludge may have been dumped in there, though we understand your agency is currently trying to learn more. It is evident, however, that clearing out the shafts would be most protective of public health.

Recent test results from monitoring wells around the mine shafts have shown the presence of lead, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals. These test results indicate that contamination in the shafts could continue to spread contamination over time, possibly leaking into groundwater and other nearby water supplies. Capping the mine shafts and allowing the contaminated material to remain in place could result in a much larger and more expensive cleanup effort in the future.

The presence of such contamination in the groundwater also merits additional remediation. Since the test results from the wells indicate that toxic chemicals are present in the groundwater, Ford has an obligation to ensure that the contamination is removed and that groundwater supplies are cleaned. Doing so will ensure that the contamination will not become a lingering problem and will help prevent contamination of the Wanaque Reservoir, the drinking water supply for two million people in the surrounding region.

Finally, we are concerned that a report by Chapin Engineering indicates strong evidence of a connection between excavation activities in SR-3 at the old Cooper Mine Pit and a sinkhole near the home of Roger DeGroat, an Upper Ringwood resident. If the excavation activities are causing sinkholes, the excavation operations need to be reassessed in order to prevent further damage to residents' properties. These sinkholes pose serious threats to public safety and it is imperative that all possible steps are taken to prevent further ones from opening up. Remediation activities need to be done comprehensively and quickly but must include all possible safety precautions.

As we have said before, it would be a further injustice to the community to move forward with anything less than a comprehensive cleanup plan that addresses all of these issues. Upper Ringwood residents have suffered too much from the initial contamination and inadequate cleanup efforts. We urge you to ensure that the mine shafts are cleared out, the groundwater is remediated, and the full cleanup effort is completed as comprehensively as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR. FRANK R. LAUTENBERG ROBERT MENENDEZ
Member of Congress United States Senator United States Senator

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:19 pm 
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This is just further evidence that the EPA doesn't care what goes on at this site and doesn't take this matter seriously -- a matter that continues to be a threat to the community and a potential threat to much of our drinking water. This is the same agency that declared the site clean multiple times in the past while people continue to get sick. This is completely absurd.

Fortunately it isn't that unclear how extensive the "mine shafts" are. But even without knowing square footage, this was amongst some of the most important mines in the state and has a history going back to the Revolutionary War. To consider the underground anything less than extensive would be a severe understatement. One Ramapough resident described to us constant dumping going on there into the mine after the pumps had been turned off and the mine was SLOWLY filling up with water. There is no doubt that to ensure the safety of the people, the mine MUST be reopened and cleaned out.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 9:02 pm 
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Nice work Mike. I agree, Ford cannot be let go with an easy out here by capping the shafts. Im still not surprised an order has been made to investigate the dumping in the mine shafts. I think Ford will do whatever they can not to have to go into those mines. Unfortunately they have allot of clout, but great job to the NJ senators drilling it back to Ford.

If it were up to me, I would order them to drain the water table in the area, examine that water, and examine the mine shafts. Then remediate appropriately.

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