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 Post subject: Ringwood homes face further sinkhole tests
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 12:50 am 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Ringwood homes face further sinkhole tests
The Record

Sunday, November 11, 2007


RINGWOOD -- Six homes and a residential street sit over underground voids in what was once a mining area.

That's the picture emerging from seismic tests done along a stretch of Van Dunk Lane during the summer. The neighborhood consists of homes built in the 1970s near the former Cannon Mine and other old iron mines.

"All six [homes] appear to need additional testing to determine if risk is involved," Borough Manager Ken Hetrick said Friday. At a closed-door meeting Thursday evening, engineering consultants briefed the Borough Council on what the testing with a gravimeter found.

"They may all be safe -- but we can't tell without doing additional borings," he said.

Still unknown is whether residents can return to two homes that were evacuated last year after sinkholes emerged near the buildings' foundations. Another hole, 30 feet deep into an old mine shaft, opened up near the two homes.

Hetrick said a council committee will meet Monday with residents of the potentially affected homes to explain the test findings and next steps borough officials are planning. Those steps include drill borings along the southwestern end of Van Dunk Lane and around five homes on that street and at a nearby home on Horseshoe Bend, he said.

Mayor Joanne Atlas said a Ringwood delegation met recently with state officials in Trenton to present the latest test results and to ask for financial assistance. Ringwood spent more than $100,000 on the gravimeter tests, she said.

"This is an enormous burden for a town," she said.

Councilman Bill O'Hearn suggested that the council consider buying a nearby tract that was cleared for a commercial project that hasn't been built. He said that tract could provide a site to build new homes, should any of the houses on Van Dunk Lane have to be condemned because of sinkhole dangers.

The houses are on the edge of a neighborhood where Ford Motor Co. is removing industrial waste it dumped decades ago from its Mahwah plant. The state Department of Environmental Protection directed the borough and Ford to do the geophysical testing. Ford refused to participate, arguing that the sinkhole issue is "related to historical mining activities," which have no connection to Ford or its cleanup activities with heavy equipment.

Since 2004, under the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ford contractors have removed more than 25,000 tons of paint sludge and tainted soil from several dump sites near Upper Ringwood homes. Ongoing investigations to find buried waste have included digging test pits throughout the area.

A crew digging such pits with a large backhoe near homes on Van Dunk Lane set off alarms among residents this week.

"Men in white suits are digging up garbage right behind my house," said Sylvia Van Dunk. She wanted to know what they were doing to make sure residents are not exposed to any toxins that are unearthed from the area's old landfills.

"They keep everybody in the dark," a neighbor said. "We'd like information on what is going on."

Whatever the cause of the sinkholes, the Republicans who will take control of the Borough Council in January want to know if Ford's toxic waste can be fully cleaned up, one of the victors, Ted Taukus, said.

"If it can't, we [borough officials] have to move from there," Taukus said. "I don't think any more generations of children should be brought up there if it can't be cleaned up. It's a toxic place."


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