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 Post subject: Ringwood: Ford's blame game
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 12:03 am 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Ford's blame game

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

HIGH levels of arsenic have been found in the soil beneath excavated paint sludge in Ringwood. While it's no surprise that Ford Motor Co. -- responsible for tons upon tons of that toxic industrial waste -- is pointing fingers elsewhere, it is disheartening to hear that the feds aren't more skeptical of Ford's story.

After all, Ford repeatedly made bogus claims about its cleanup of this former Superfund site, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency -- reprehensibly -- accepted those claims. As a result, more than a decade after Ford insisted that the site was rid of all paint sludge, the company is still removing tons upon tons of lead- and chemical-laced compound.

The residents of the area, primarily Ramapough Mountain Indians, are suing Ford for untold damages as the result of all that dumping, so it's only natural that the company would try to deflect the blame. But why is the EPA so quick to go along?

Ford says its tests of the paint sludge haven't shown arsenic levels nearly as high as the levels found in the nearby soil. It also says the cause of the arsenic in the soil is likely iron residue from an earlier Ringwood mining operation. And the EPA appears eager to accept Ford's story.

Said Joe Gowers, the EPA case manager in Ringwood, "Now we're looking at the possibility we have another source of contamination."

There's just one huge, gaping discrepancy. Tests conducted by an environmental group and tests done by The Record -- in conjunction with last fall's "Toxic Legacy" series about this colossally flawed cleanup -- contradict Ford's assertion that there's scant arsenic in the paint sludge. To the contrary, the independent testing found arsenic levels in the paint sludge seven times higher than the allowable state level. The iron-mining residue tested by Ford was nowhere near that contaminated.

In the past year alone, Ford contractors have removed 9,000 tons of paint sludge from this site in Upper Ringwood. That's right, 9,000 tons. What's more, when the EPA ordered Ford to remove all the paint sludge in 1987, it included arsenic as one of the prime pollutants. So when arsenic was found in the soil underneath all that sludge, where do you think the arsenic came from?

Let Ford do as much testing as it likes, but the feds must hire an independent company to test both the paint sludge and the iron waste. Why would anyone trust Ford to get things right?

The EPA is supposed to be an environmental watchdog, not a corporate cheerleader. It's time for this agency to drop the pom-poms and do its job.


Reproduced with permission of North Jersey Media Group.

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