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 Post subject: Ringwood: Ford sludge is found in Ringwood mine pit
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:22 am 
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Ford sludge is found in Ringwood mine pit

http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qst ... k2OTczNDYy

Thursday, August 10, 2006

By BARBARA WILLIAMS
STAFF WRITER



Paint sludge from a long-closed Ford Motor Co. plant has been found 65 feet below ground in a Ringwood mine pit, but government and company officials are downplaying its effect on Wanaque Reservoir, which is a half-mile away.

Michael Barnes, assistant director of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, which oversees the Wanaque and Monksville reservoirs, said he learned only this week about the sludge. But he said the commission had already been doing additional testing and had found no contamination.

"When all these concerns came up about the site, we went to monthly testing instead of quarterly," Barnes said. "We test for a number of things including metals, volatile chemicals and sometimes PCBs and nothing has entered our property."

Environmentalists and residents, however, questioned how the area's water could be unaffected.

"We know from tests done 10 years ago that there's contamination in the groundwater on the site," said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the Sierra Club in New Jersey. "We don't know how far it's traveling -- it may be in the springs, in the fish people are catching."

Barnes said "multiple stagnant pools" between the dump and the reservoir would trap any contaminated sediment. Sally's Pond, in particular, is a large, tranquil body of water that would be an ample host for just such sediment. The water commission tests it on a regular basis, and Barnes said no contaminants have been detected there.

"This isn't an immediate concern because we haven't found increased contamination in our test results," said Ben Barry, a spokesman for the federal Environmental Protection Agency. "We're not removing it now since it's below the ground. We're concentrating on the areas where there is exposure on the surface."

The sludge was mixed with cardboard, wood and general refuse.

"We expected to find it, and it was just chunks, not huge deposits of it," Ford spokesman Jon Holt said Tuesday.

The 100-foot-deep pit was the entrance to the Peters Mine, and stretches diagonally from the surface to the opening of a 2,000-foot-deep shaft. Rail cars traveled the pit to bring iron ore to the surface.

Neighbors have said that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, dump trucks backed up and let lava-like sludge pour into the huge cavity. A bulldozer once toppled in and was never recovered, they said.

Officials have not determined whether a deeper investigation, into the mine shaft itself -- which is deep enough to hold the Statue of Liberty -- is necessary.

Ford has always said the shaft was sealed before it started dumping. EPA concurs.

"We haven't determined if we will investigate the shaft; it might not be necessary," said Barry, the EPA spokesman. "We're waiting to see more test results."

Jack Walker, who lives today in the same house next to the site that he did when he watched the dump trucks come in every night, said he knows there's sludge in the mine shaft.

"That pit has been filled with water; how could they have capped that?" Walker asked. "It's never been sealed or capped."

An incomplete Superfund cleanup that ended in 1994 left sludge heaps scattered throughout 900 acres of the wooded hills in Upper Ringwood. Ford's contractors have carted away more than 17,000 tons in a renewed cleanup begun in 2004. The mine shaft pierces Hope Mountain, a short way from that surface cleanup site.

The lead-based sludge contains arsenic and toxic chemicals linked to cancer and nerve damage. Some of the excavated surface sludge has had a rubbery consistency and has reeked of chemicals.

Neighbors, many of them Ramapough Mountain Indians, say the waste continues to cause serious illnesses and premature deaths in their community. No link has been officially established between the waste and their health problems.

Nevertheless, the sludge find in the pit prompted more testing for any contamination leaching into channels that feed the Wanaque Reservoir, about a half-mile away. The reservoir supplies water to 2 million North Jersey residents. That testing includes four new monitoring wells.

Samples will be taken in September from them and others near the pit, Holt said.

Despite the renewed attention to the site, residents mistrust the overseeing Environmental Protection Agency and Ford, and have asked that the state take a more active role in monitoring the cleanup.

Indeed, a state representative released the information about the pit's contamination Friday, when Governor Corzine visited the site.

EPA and Ford staff said the information would have been made public when all test results from Peters Mine were compiled in a report.

EPA staff said its tests also show the contamination is not leaving the general site. Cleaning the pit is not a priority, they said, and more testing will be done before any decisions on whether or how to remove the sludge.

Ken Petrone, case manager for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said a state technical crew would work this week with the EPA and Ford to determine whether the pit sludge should be removed.

Holt said that by law, Ford may not have to remove the sludge.

"Superfund doesn't mandate taking it [the waste] all away," he said. "If there's no exposure on the surface and no impact to the groundwater, it may be able to be capped."

E-mail: williamsb@northjersey.com

6973462

Reprinted with permission from North Jersey Media Group


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:02 pm 
Hmmm. Although I do recognize that the Ford mess is a serious problem, I would tend to take anything the Sierra club says with a pound of salt. The Sierra Club has been known to espouse goofy agendas in the past. If they had their way, there would be little to no use of public lands, by the public, for recreation. I can also see their statements about PCB's in Wanaque & Monksville as scare tactics to damage, if at all possible, sport fishing in those reservoirs.

Years ago, my family used to give to the Sierra Club. In the years since, however, I have noticed that they have allowed themselves to be taken over by their more radical elements. I have seen references to draining reservoirs, eliminating trails and fencing wildlife management areas on Sierra Club forums. Basically, there seems to be a trend among its members to be against public use of public lands. Not surprisingly though, I've never read anything that suggested that they themselves be barred from entering these lands! It baffles my mind. These public lands belong to you and me. Why would anyone with any semblance of a spine, willingly allow some arbitrary group to dictate when, and how, they utilize their own public lands? But I digress....

As bad as the dumping at Ringwood was, it seems to me that the Superfund cleanup did more harm to the area than Ford did. The fact that heaps of this sludge were just left on the surface seems inconceivable to me. Ford should have been made to finish the entire cleanup unmolested. The federal government shouldn't have been involved in the first place. Ford has enough money to clean up the site without having citizens foot the bill. The only government employees on site should have been EPA inspectors, ensuring that the cleanup was being done properly. However, after seeing the mess that the federal government made of the cleanup in the first place, I don't think that having EPA inspectors on scene would make a lick of difference.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:26 pm 
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Yes, the Ford dumping is a huge problem. I do tend to agree, that the many incomplete clean ups which took place through the years probably has made the situation if anything more severe. If they had left the site alone, the pollution while dangerous and disastrous to the environment, would have been isolated to a single spot and it may not have traveled much into the surrounding areas. Since they have been doing a half-assed job of cleaning only some stuff and leaving the pollution disturbed, it has more of an opportunity to move and damage other areas. They really should not have touched the site until they did a full assessment on EVERYTHING they needed to clean up. There is no point in disturbing the polluted lands to remove only contaminated soil on the surface. As soon as you put new soil on top of the polluted land to backfill it, the new soil will become polluted like the old backfilled soil which was removed. You have to either remove all of the contamination to the best of your abilities, or leave it alone until you to come back to removal all of the contamination. The inclined shaft, whether it is capped or not was filled for years with paint sludge. That needs to be cleaned up. Not just the top 10 or 20 feet of it.

Miner Greg


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:22 pm 
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Location: Winnemucca, NV
I have spoken to Ramapough residents and they have described the dumping being done in the shaft before the water table had risen -- and for years. Now imagine all of the toxic waste mixed in with a rising water table because they probably didn't expect the mine to naturally flood as it did, and you have a serious problem underground. To assume that this toxic waste would be fully contained in the mine and never seep into the water table is a serious flaw in thinking. I believe the more time wasted with politics, the more people are going to suffer, the more difficult it will be to clean up, and the closer it will be to yours and my drinking water.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:25 am 
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There also seems to be evidence and theories of a lot more material going into the mine that would have been possible if the inclined shaft was capped. The residents talk about an entire bulldozer or backhoe falling into it, never being recovered. Then all of the car parts, millions of gallons of waste, and everything else dumped into it. Too many people have died and gotten hurt from this mess.


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