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Ford Committed a Monstrous Crime In Ringwood


Ringwood Mines Superfund Site  (Bill Wolfe, 1/3/12)

Ringwood Mines Superfund Site (Bill Wolfe, 1/3/12)

[Update: 7/5/14 – The Record editorial nails it, read “Toxic Compromise” – end update]

Yesterday, I rightfully blasted EPA for a cynical deal that would let Ford Motor Co. off the hook for some $30 million in cleanup costs for the Superfund site they created in Ringwood, NJ, while shifting long term risks to the community.

In fairness, EPA didn’t create the problem, so I thought readers might not be aware of the history and therefore might benefit from the context, in terms of a brief overview of what Ford did at the Ringwood site. So, today its Ford’s turn.

An understanding of the reprehensible and egregious behaviors Ford engaged in fuels some of the anger at EPA for letting Ford off the hook for cleanup costs, when they should be criminally prosecuted.

So, here is a brief history of the site, from EPA’s ROD, over-viewing what Ford did to create the Ringwood Superfund site. It far surpasses the typical pattern of greed and irresponsible corporate behavior that has led to most of the Superfund sites.

EPA wrote:

In January 1965, the Ringwood Realty Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ford, purchased more than 400 acres at the Site. Records indicate that in 1967, the Ringwood Realty Corporation entered into a contract with the O’Connor Trucking and Haulage Corporation for the disposal of wastes generated at the Ford factory located in Mahwah, New Jersey. EPA believes that O’Connor Trucking disposed of various waste which it received from Ford, including plant trash, paint sludge, drummed waste and other non-liquid plant wastes, at the Peters Mine Pit, the Cannon Mine Pit and the O’Connor Disposal Area (OCDA) at the Site (see Appendix I, Figure 2).

In 1969, the Ringwood Realty Corporation began selling or donating portions of the Site. In 1970, 290 acres of the Site were donated to the Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority. During the same year, additional acreage was sold to the Public Service Electric and Gas Company for use as a transmission line right of way. In 1973, 109 acres were donated to NJDEP and this area was added to the Ringwood State Park. In that same year, Housing Operation with Training Opportunity (HOW TO) a New Jersey not-for-profit corporation, accepted the donation of over 35 acres of the Site. It is believed that by December 21, 1973, the Ringwood Realty Corporation no longer owned any land at the Site.page10image27096

So, let’s recap what Ford knowingly did – and all to avoid the cost of proper disposal of their hazardous waste:

  • formed a wholly owned subsidiary real estate corporation, under a local name, masking Ford’s role
  • purchased remote forested lands owned and occupied by Native Americans
  • entered into contracts with a waste hauler to truck Ford’s hazardous waste to the site
  • dumped unknown tons of highly toxic sludges and chemicals in that remote land
  • then began donating the highly contaminated  land to unsuspecting public entities and a non-profit, thereby spreading cleanup liability

And no one from Ford went to prison for this scheme.

Instead, 50 years later, still the site is not cleaned up and EPA is bending over backwards to give Ford breaks to reduce cleanup costs.

The whole thing is a disgrace. Take a look (shot on 1/3/12)









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