Environmentalist: Entire N.J. Town Should Be Tested For Lead

Fears Of Contamination Plague Ringwood Mines, Surrounding Neighborhoods

RINGWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The contamination has spread further than anyone imagined.

Lead levels in homes just outside a New Jersey superfund site have been found to be dangerously high and that has some observers demanding quick action.

The sludge dumped on the site continues to surprise the people trying to clean it up — and the residents trying to live their lives nearby.

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports: Ringwood Residents Concerned

Environmentalist Robert Spiegel is so alarmed he said the entire population of this rural community should be screened for contamination.

“Everybody should be tested for lead and dioxin,” Spiegel told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Spiegel is chairman of the advisory board charged with monitoring the decades-long clean-up at the Ringwood Mines Site, where the vast amounts of paint sludge from a nearby Ford car plant was dumped in the 1960s and ‘70s. The Environmental Protection Agency has twice declared the site clean only to re-open it.

“There’s still mine shafts just full of toxic waste up here,” Spiegel said.

Recent soil tests show that some homes in the area have lead levels of 22 thousand parts per million in their yards. That’s 50 times what the government considers safe. The EPA said it has removed 37,000 tons of soil and debris from the site since 2004 and has no estimate how much more is left.

“We have such high death rate around here. And one of my concerns is, do some of the adults have high lead levels?” Upper Ringwood resident Vivian Milligan said.

The New Jersey Department of Health has offered lead screening for children living here, but not for adults, few of whom have health insurance or the means to get the tests themselves. A spokesperson for department in Trenton said it’s taking the advisory panel’s recommendation under advisement.

Alarmed? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Lou Young
  • Jen

    This is very upsetting to me and my family. We recently moved to Ringwood from Bergen County last year> We came to the area to get away from the cities, away from the traffic and into the quiet, natural surroundings of nature, mountains and a slower, quieter way of life.
    As as mother of two young children, I am second guessing this possibly toxic decision. I am having our lead levels checked this week.
    I will be attending the meeting this Tuesday to get more answers and more information regarding this matter.
    I believe all who live in Ringwood should be informed and educated and proactive in this matter!

  • Jim

    How about the folks on here come to Ringwood and visit. It’s a beautiful town with a ridiculous amount of amazing park land, and a good amount of lakes as well. I live here, and while obviously Ford made some serious mistakes, you would never think anything had happened at all if you came to the town.

    It’s a normal thriving town…well more beautiful than most I’ve lived in, but other than that totally normal. I understand fully the concerns, but realize that the Ford you’re angry at doesn’t even exist anymore. Things go so freaking over dramatized these days it blows my mind.

    • Get The Lead OUT!

      WE NEED YOUR HEKP NOW!! Come to the EPA meeting on August 23, 2011 at 6:30pm at the Ringwood Public Library. Let’s tell the EPA and Ford to clean up Ringwood NOW.
      At this meeting the EPA will present their proposals for clean-up of the Ringwood Superfund site. There are six options on the EPA’s menu. Four of the six involve capping and fencing the site, so it is likely this is the clean-up solution the EPA will deem most feasible. However, the only healthy remedy for toxic waste in a watershed area is the complete removal and off-site disposal of all toxins.

      Ford is lobbying to reclaim a portion of Ringwood State Park. According to an article in the Bergen Record on August 7, 2011, Ford asserts that “the land reacquisition would ‘cut down the administrative burden’ on the parks department.” But is Ford really so altruistic? Owning the land would be an easy solution to Ford’s expensive mess.

      For years, Ringwood residents have been trying to make Ford and the EPA do the right thing. For years Ford has stalled the clean-up. There is strength in numbers! If we want to affect change we have to show up in great numbers to get our message across. ALL of the people who care about Ringwood are needed to ensure that the EPA holds Ford accountable. An agency whose mission is to protect the environment, must keep our land and water clean, our state park in the hands of the people and not an industrial polluter.

      • Get The Lead Out

        This is NOT just a Ringwood problem! This is watershed land and the streams that rub over and through this toxic waste, run into the Wanaque Reservoir. There are 12 towns that receive their drinking water from this reservoir – THESE are the downstream towns: Newark, Paterson, Kearny, Bayonne, Passaic, Wayne, Bloomfield, Clifton, Montclair, Nutley, Cedar grove, Glen Ridge and Oradell reservoir receives untreated water from the same source. NO – THIS IS NOT JUST A RINGWOOD PROBLEM!
        COME TO THE EPA MEETING – TUESDAY, AUGUST 23rd at 6:30 pm at the Ringwood Library, 30 Cannici Drive, Ringwood

  • lisa

    hmmm…..we live in haskell….i wonder how far it has spread downhill…..

    • pat

      I was born and raised at ringwood statepark,and i’d like to know where and when they are testing people for lead?

  • Kevin

    it is sad!!!!! that a super power like ford can just do what they pls. why ! why!! the hell does no one care???

    • bobbyd

      Hey guys, how come nobody talks about the developer who plowed through the waste to build 50 homes on the site in 1994? Thats the culprit. Plus why would anyone want to live on top of a toxic state and epa approved waste site? Answer…they got a great deal! so now 10 years after they are living on the site..they claim they are getting sick and want to blame ford…its all about money! Don’t blame Ford..blame the city for allowing a developer to plow up the waste and build those homes…not Ford.

  • Linda

    Luckily, there are organizations like the EWA out there making this issue known! I can’t believe the residents have been living in those toxic environments for so long. I hope the people of Ringwood get tested because no one deserves the consequences of this toxin.

  • Edward J Meakem

    Thank you for all the work E.W.A. has done at this site and all sites they work on across New Jersey, and for bringing this call for testing to the to the E.P.A !

  • Michelle

    This is without a doubt an issue that needs to be resolved immediately. To see individuals living in such unsafe environments really gets me worried. Testing them should be the first line of defense to protect their health. The public’s health should not be ignored and it seems that Robert Spiegel is really making that heard through the efforts and activism of the Edison Wetlands Association.

  • mary beth alpisa

    I grew up in cupsaw area of Ringwood, have had multiple medical problems since I was 14 and was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma 2 times. I participated in the state blood test for the mann vs, ford case a few years ago, surprisingly they lost my blood test for my lead levels. why isnt anyone investigating other areas of ringwood?

    • Mary Beth Louis Alpisa

      I was also told after speaking to the attorneys, (a few years ago)who were interested in my case that I didnt qualify since I didnt live in that exact neighborhood.

  • Mary C.

    This is an atrocity. No one should be fearful of where they live. This toxic waste site needs to be cleaned up so that the residents can live in a safe environment and enjoy peace of mind. I commend Edison Wetlands Association and Robert Spiegel for their activism within the Ringwood community. Everyone should definitely be tested for lead poisoning!

  • Bob Max

    We need to look at the issue of widespread contamination of the entire area by Ford. They dumped all around including on the boarders on NY and NJ. They need to be held accountable for what they did. Kudos to Channel 2 and Lou Young. Maybe you can do a follow up story on this and focus on the community and what EPA and other agencies will be doing to help the community get cleaned up.

  • D. Hall

    If it was a small company like Hopewell Precision, the company that contaminated my entire neighborhood with water and air contamination, the lawyers would not have worked to help these people. Weitz and Luxenburg and Williams, Kuker, Berezofsky dropped us like a hot potato after 6 years because the company ONLY earns 3 million dollars annually.

    Still, my heart aches for these people and all people who are suffering at the hands of greedy companies. Shame on these companies and shame on the government for not doing more to make these companies take responsibility.

    We are a federal superfund site since 2005 and we still do not know where our alternate water will come from. Hopewell Precision has not paid 1 cent and has not been asked to pay one cent.

  • Lorena

    I grew up in this area, left for Sussex County in 1978. Unfortunately dumping occurs all over this country. There are many stories about dumping sites in Sussex County as well, many say the sites will glow in the dark. I am not making light of the situation, yes it is serious. However, to listen to the EPA – I have serious reservations about their involvement. Look at their air quality reports from the 9/11 site and how many people are sick and have died from working at the cleanup site there. You need real science to investigate and get to the real Truth, not a bunch of ivy league educated regulators from the EPA. Back in the 70’s the EPA even said that pumping raw sewerage into the ocean is okay because the salt water will break it down. I agree, you need real science to work on each and every case. Kick the regulators out, they only make it worse. Be aware of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) the estrogens in plastic water and soda bottles and the damages they are causing. Folks, we have much to be concerned with – when I see EPA is involved – my trust is gone. We have a few clean up sites in the town I live in now, just over the border in NY – on the Delaware River – EPA okayed monitoring wells and said a clean up was not necessary. A very good environmental attorney took the case and along with the firm came real science. It is now being cleaned up. Stay the fight and do not believe EPA. Remember 9/11 and the clean up site.

  • 4icare

    I have my uncle working in federal public health dept and he stated once that Unfortunately, I have job because NJ has lead! Sad enough, no one is getting serious about this fact. I do not understand why government is taking so much time. The effects are felt and people die for it. As Spiegel said, the test should be done and the extent of spread should be determined to implement the proper clean-up and remediation program! There is no way out of it. We’re poisoned. It’s just the matter of below or above recoverable limits.

  • Autumn Wind Scott

    when Governor Corzine issued his executive order #24 creating the committee on American Indians affairs-I was charged with showing the comittee members the ringwood superfund site and additionally to shed light on the social injustices suffered by the Tribe for centuries. I am a Tribal member and Chair of the NJ state commission on A.I. Affairs. I asked the highest ranking person in charge of the cleanup at the time to define “clean” for me. “Clean” as in clean enough for poor Indians to inhabit, or “Clean” as in clean enough for a developer to purchase and build multi-million $ Mansions. She told me point blank that technologically/scientifically speaking there is no such thing as clean to that extent. As an Indian we know that “what goes in the groung-stays in the ground!” As has been proven, you can remove all visible sludge-only to have it bubble to the surface at a later date. This horrific act has garnered national attention, however the Tribal citizens have suffered, and continue to suffer many more social injustices! Lastly, I would strongly suggest serious independant testing of the reservoir also!
    Autumn Wind Scott

  • robert Spiegel

    We need to reauthorize the federal Superfund program so it has the funding to clean up sites without the us taxpayers holding the check. The funds expired in 1995 and ran out of money around 2006. The oil and chemical companies who caused the problems should pay for their cleanup. There is an estimate 250,000 toxic waste sites that should be cleaned up but the federal government does not have the money. Those who caused the pollution should pay for its clean it up. Contact your Senators and Congressmen and tell them to reauthorize the polluters pay provision for Superfund so we can clean up sites like Ringwood that are a plague in every town in the USA.

  • Tomy

    What a dump, no wonder why people are leaving , and it isnt just the high taxes that rape you.

  • Avery Grant, Executive Director, Concerned Citizens Coalition of Long Branch

    Avery Grant, Executive Director, Concerned Citizens Coalition of Long Branch

    I am sure that all of the people of the city should be checked for toxic poisioning. I base this on the experience that my organization had with our residents who were seriously effected by the air and ground contamination from the former manufactured gas plant. After many physical exams and depositions, 292 of our residents received a total settlement of about $15 million.There would have been more residents, but about 150 residents dropped out because of the many hoops that they were being put through by the lawyers for the site owners. Thank God we had good lawyers and persistent residents.

    Again, I agree with Bob Spiegel, because of his expertise and experience— that all the residents need to be tested for toxic poisioning.

    • pat

      when is this testing going to be done? and where?

  • Bob Makin

    We ought to all go on strike until the state and federal government clean all these places up. They want us to eat lead? We won’t work until their greedy ways are dead! They want to control and manipulate us and kill us with their greed. Well, we’re the ones who do all the work. If we don’t do it, they’ll come toppling down, and we can put everybody back to work cleaning up their mess.

    • badman

      State and Federal government? Why?? They’re both in hock up to their eyeballs! The waste came from Ford’s factory. They are responsible for cleaning it up. Sure, they’ll blame it on their waste contractors or someone else. No one in corporate America ever takes responsibility. But I guarantee that Ford reaped the benefits of the lowball contract rates they got from their disposal service. Now they should pay it back.

      Let’s see the “conservatives” show their true colors on this one. Get your government off my toxic waste cleanup. Hold the responsible parties responsible!

  • Mark M

    Every hometown needs a Toxic Avenger like Bob Spiegel and Edison Wetlands, because lord knows nobody else is looking out for the citizens when it comes to contaminated sites!

  • Steve Purrings

    This story really touched me and I hope something gets done to help these families. I am glad to see Bob Spiegel is helping out. If anyone can get this site cleaned he can. I hope the state and federal government forces Ford to do the right thing and clean up this beautiful area. I have been to Ringwood a long time ago. It is one of the prettiest areas I have ever seen. The Ringwood State Park is right there as well. Does anyone know if the Ringwood State Park was affected by the Fords dumping?

    • Rch Chapin

      There was maor dumping in the State Park, both delliberately into Peters Mine Pit and randoml;y along roads. Randon locations that have been found have been cleaned up and they [Ford who’s doing and paying for the work and USEPA who’s direcing it/watching it beong done] thin they’ve gotten it, but htere is no way to reaaly verify this. mThe porject is currently at stage of deciding the next major steps for three, very large areas of dumpling {Peters Mine Pit, Cannon MIne Pit & O’Connor Landfill]. Ford’s current plan for Peters is to, essentially, leave it in-place after covering it. and has initiated activitieto to buy back Peters Mine from the State of New Jersey. For the record, Ford donated that land to New Jersey After the dumping occurred.
      People should come out to the Augaust 2nd CAG [Citiezens Advisory Group] meeting to hear whats going on.
      Thank you CBS for running a very important story. You should keep at this one as it has very long legs.
      Rich Chapin, P.E. Technical Advisor to the Ringwood CAG

  • Irene Billingsword

    I want to know more about what is going on with this story I went to the website and signed the petition and I could not believe what I was reading. I hope Channel 2 does a follow up story on this. I would like to know more about this community also an investigation of why this was allowed to happen. Can Channel 2 do a feature on this story and find out what is going to happen to these families?

  • Dana Patterson

    Watch Mann v. ford on HBO tonight at nine pm to see for yourself the tribes and tribulations this community has suffered from. Learn how high levels of dioxin is still existing in the attics and epa has done no testing so far. They must be tested NOW. This is no joke.

  • Greg Remaud

    This is a serious request based on science, not an alarmist reaction. residnets should be tested and Speigel and local activists commended.

    • Jim

      Really? Ringwood is a rather large town, and while I’m no “environmental scientist”, I do live here. Testing the entire town seems ludicrous. Testing sections closest, then sections next closest, until you find zero contamination seems like the most efficient and economical solution. Why the hell would you just incite panic instead of doing things truly scientifically?

  • S. Coppers

    I think this site needs to be fully cleaned up. I hope the EPA does what they are tasked to do and helps the community. Bob Spiegel and the Edison Wetlands are correct in the need for testing and clean up. I went to the website http://www.ringwoodsuperfundsite.org and found a lot of information.

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