By Dave Ragazzo
The newspaper series “Toxic Legacy” in the Bergen Record was a very enlightening piece about a profound environmental issue in New Jersey and New York. This series was very well written, and also discussed an important topic that many people living in the area do not know a great deal about. Being a senior at Ramapo College, and living on the campus for four years, this issue has had some impact on me. I did not know any of this before reading the newspaper articles, but now that I am aware of the situation, I would like to be more proactive about the issue. It is a little unfortunate that this was not more widely broadcasted to the Ramapo community because there are a lot of people at this school that would be happy to help the cause if they knew about it.
What I found most disturbing was the actions that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took during the years that the toxic waste was in the infected areas. Ford was wrong in polluting the environment with paint sludge and other toxic wastes, and it was the EPA’s responsibility to take care of the wastes. However, when Ford did this, they did not do the job, and almost seemed as though the EPA did not care to clean the mess that Ford had left. I thought this was totally disturbing as well as totally unprofessional on the part of the EPA. I know that no one wants to clean up someone else’s mess, especially when that mess is toxic waste, but that is part of their job descriptions. If you were working for this agency, you would have to know that doing stuff like this would be a great possibility. If you didn’t want to get into work that involved cleaning the environment, I don’t know why you would want to work for an agency whose sole responsibility is doing that. It makes absolutely no sense to me, and because of this, I think the EPA should be held more accountable than Ford.
I believe sanctions should be taken against the EPA for their actions during the cleanup of the Ford debacle in this area. By not cleaning this mess, they put many lives in danger, and affected the quality of life for the people of this area. Considering I lived on the Ramapo campus for four years, I feel disrespected by the actions taken by the EPA. I would imagine that the people who have lived in this area for many years and have sent kids through the schools here would be even more disappointed than I am, and they have every right to. Unfortunately, there are no other agencies that are going to replace the EPA, and now when other environmental issues come into play, I think we have an unreliable agency in charge of that.