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 Post subject: Ringwood: Bat endangers toxic cleanup
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:51 pm 
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http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qst ... k2OTcwMzEw

Bat endangers toxic cleanup

By BARBARA WILLIAMS
STAFF WRITER


RINGWOOD -- Ford's toxic waste dump may be home to a tiny newcomer, posing a big problem for neighbors seeking a speedy cleanup.

The Indiana bat, a nationally listed endangered species, may be in the area. And that has interrupted tree clearing at the dump even though residents say the contamination is making them ill and should be removed as soon as possible.

Wildlife personnel are investigating whether the bats, which winter in mines and summer in the bark of large trees, are living at the Upper Ringwood site.

"We realize some work has stopped and we understand what's going on at the site so we're moving fast on this," said Lisa Arroyo, an endangered species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to federal law, all Superfund sites must be investigated for endangered species. Experts looked for such species as the bog turtle, small whorled pogonia and Indiana bat. Indeed, the site's myriad old mine shafts and wooded slopes seem ideal for the insect-eating bat, and the flying mammal has been found in other nearby parts of the Highlands. So a search was ordered.

But under thick brush and beside massive trees, large deposits of dried paint sludge wait to be hauled out. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing Ford's fifth cleanup of the area, after the auto giant dumped thousands of tons of toxic waste four decades ago. Streams from the area feed the Wanaque Reservoir, a water supply for 2 million people.

Ford spokesman Jon Holt said contractors have stopped clearing trees, and have performed a mist net survey to catch bats and see if they are Indiana bats.

Results from the survey must be submitted by Aug. 15. If the bats are found to live in Ringwood, a plan must be developed so cleanup work won't "adversely affect the bats," Arroyo said.

EPA spokesman Ben Barry said tree clearing so far has only been "limited," not stopped. If necessary, an exemption to the endangered species law may be sought from Fish and Wildlife.

"If Fish and Wildlife tells us not to go forward with the cleanup, then we'll ask for an exemption to the law," Barry said recently in discussing the new development.

Neighborhood residents, many of whom are state-recognized Ramapough Mountain Indians, are incredulous that the bats may slow down cleanup efforts.

They allege that the toxic sludge left behind after incomplete prior cleanups is the cause of their serious illnesses and early deaths.

However, no official declaration has been made of a link between the sicknesses and the contamination.

"The bats are an endangered species -- well, so are we," resident Vivian Milligan told federal officials at a public meeting held recently. "Who do we go to to protect us?"

Indeed, when it comes to the bats versus people, Milligan may have a point under law.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the federal health agency, has declared the site "hazardous to human heath."

The wording of the Superfund law says that finding should supersede the endangered species law: When human health is concerned, a full-scale cleanup can be pursued despite the harm it will cause to protected species.

Kevin Madonna, one of the lawyers representing the residents, said, "Certainly creatures can't be more important than humans. There are 350,000 Indiana bats in this country, which means they outnumber the Ramapough Mountain Indians about 100 to 1."

The Indiana bats' largest populations are in Indiana and the surrounding area, but a loss of mines there has caused many to migrate to eastern mountains.

A large population lives in caves in Rockaway, and they can travel up to 60 miles, said Melissa Craddock, with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

"The female bats form colonies behind the bark of trees and have their babies together," Craddock said. "There are 30 known trees the bats use to roost, so cutting down trees may impact the population next spring."

The issue of the dump's effect on all forms of life remains a dominant one. Ringwood residents living outside the dump site are angry that studies have still not been done on whether plants and animals living in the woods are affected by the toxic waste. They complained to EPA officials at the public meeting.

"People will come up here to hunt and they won't know whether the deer and pheasant they take home to their families are contaminated," said Tom Anastasio. "You said a year ago you would do biota studies and here it is a year later, hunting season is coming up and you still haven't done anything."

At the request of the residents, state officials originally said they would do the biota studies. But recently they did an about-face and decided to work with federal officials to study the plants and animals in the area.

The work plan is still being created. Joe Gowers, EPA case manager, said his agency hopes to do the biota studies beginning in the fall.

Fast facts

Indiana bat

# Medium-sized with dull gray to brown fur and a pink underside.

# Eats insects.

# Numbers about 300,000 in the United States.

# Lives 25 to 30 years.

# Breeds during the first 10 days of October.

# Each female bears only one or two offspring per year.

E-mail: williamsb@northjersey.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:56 pm 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
While this is interesting, I have not seen any bats present at the Peter's Mine site. There are lots of places for them to hibernate, I just haven't seen any even at our spring survey of the mine. I don't see the Indiana bat as a good excuse for Ford to stop cleaning up as the bats would probably not live where they are cleaning up. The mine entrances which are still opened are not areas currently being cleaned up, unless some of these areas such as the air shaft are closed.

Miner Greg


Last edited by Miner Greg on Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:49 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 2:44 pm
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Location: Hamburg, NJ
Wow this situation has really just beyond anything imagineable. I thought it couldnt get worse when they found thee arsenic, then subsidence, then this then that. next thing they will find is a time machine in there, or Jimmy Hoffa. (Thats not to far fetched being that the mod did most of the dumping 8)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:33 pm
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
I know, it is out of hand. While bats do hibernate in mines and bats live in some trees during the summer, you have the same concern about harming bats no matter what tree you cut down. The trees in the cleanup area are probably the least likely to have bats. I don't think the bats are going to sleep in trees right next to a clean up site with bulldozers, backhoes, and other machinery running all day. It is just not going to happen, there are plenty of other trees for the bats to live in which are in quieter areas. This is just one more excuse to slow down the cleanup. We still don't know that bats live in the mine.


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