Ringwood residents push back on EPA’s plan to clean up superfund site

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Residents of one Passaic County town are pushing back on the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to clean up toxins at a superfund site.

A group of Ringwood residents attended Monday night’s meeting with the EPA. They say that the toxins from the site are killing their neighbors.

Chief Vincent Mann, head of the Turtle Clan of the Ramapo Lenape Nation, says that he has conducted over 80 funerals in the past 2.5 years due to deaths he attributes to cancer caused by the chemicals coming from the site.

“We’re mean to be here, to sit here, to stay here to suffer. When does it end?” he asks.

The former Ford Motor Company site is located near a reservoir that provides drinking water to millions of New Jersey residents. About 50 years ago, ford dumped its paint, sludge and other toxic chemicals on to the Ringwood land. Over time it contaminated the mines and groundwater.

RELATED: US EPA: Toxic chemical again found at Ford Superfund site 

“Ford polluted it, ford should clean it. It’s not like they’re a little mom and pop operation,” says Ringwood resident Robin Canetti.

Ringwood officials attributed the cancers and kidney diseases town residents have developed to these chemicals.

“If you’re not going to clean up, move everybody the hell out,” says New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittle.

Tittle says that a full cleanup of the site is needed. The EPA plans to install wells to pump oxygen into the groundwater, driving out the chemicals. The EPA’s plan would cost $3.4 million.

“A real cleanup plan would cost $40-50 million. The plan that they have is just going to cost less than half of that,” says Tittle. “So, its just profits over protecting the environment.

But EPA officials say that their plan will work.

“This measure is actually an active measure. We’re actually going to be actively treating the groundwater contamination here. So, regardless of what treatment option we look at, it would take quite some time to meet those standards,” says project manager Joe Gowers.

The EPA estimates that under its proposed cleanup plan, the site won't meet groundwater standards for about 20 to 30 years.

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