By Jon Lindenauer
Among the shocking articles and interviews I witnessed on the “Toxic Legacy” website, one video in particularly caught my eye. The video was centered on a 45 year old man from Ringwood, NJ named Wayne Mann. With the interview forebodingly coming to a climax as a storm surges into the area, Mann discusses a disturbing trend that has occurred in the decades since Ford has failed to clear the toxic paint sludge left over from the Ford Plant that once stood in Mahwah, NJ. The interview, which begins unassumingly in Mann’s garden – where he describes the tradition of gardening in his family and community – lays the foundation of the community setting that has since been ravaged a grave injustice.
From the garden, the interview drifts to discussion regarding past generations, in which an astonishing revelation comes to the forefront: in past times it was not unheard of for individuals living in his Ringwood neighborhood to live to the ages of eighty or ninety or even one hundred. However, assumedly due to the effects of Ford’s leftover toxic paint sludge deposits which have wrought unfathomable havoc upon the Ringwood community as well as other neighboring communities, it is now rare for a Ringwood resident near Ford’s dump site to live past the age of seventy; obviously a stark contrast to the century mark.
Representatives for the Ford Industry would certainly argue against any correlation between the toxic paint sludge that they have neglected to remove from the Ringwood area and the declining ages of the community’s elderly individuals. However, a drop of approximately thirty percent in the ages of the oldest members of a town no doubt speaks for itself. This is especially clear given the fact that continued advancements in modern medicine would surely mitigate any other minor causes in the apparently sagging health of Ringwood’s senior citizen population. Therefore, even giving the Ford Industry the benefit of the doubt is beyond reasonable.
In the interview, Mann goes on to compare what Ford has done – regarding the eradication of the town’s eighty years old or older population – to murder. Of course, for the term “murder” to be properly applied to this particular situation there must be a smoking gun, or a direct connection between the dumping of Ford’s paint sludge and the prematurely abbreviated golden years of the Ringwood’s senior population. A trove of evidence draws the parallel between the death of older, more environmentally sensitive individuals, and the dangers of the Ford’s paint pollution.
Possible factors linking Ford’s sludge and the deaths of Ringwood’s elderly include: Ford clean-up crew members having to show up to removal sites in moon-suits to properly shield themselves from the toxic airborne debris resulting from the sludge, and untold toxicity making its way into local freshwater sources as a result of paint sludge covered rock and mud surfaces. These are only a few possibilities amongst many, but from these examples alone it is easy for any person to understand the full scope of the danger that Ringwood community members face. Their daily lives are under constant assault from both hidden and painfully obvious toxic waste left behind by the Ford Motor company, and nowhere is the result of this assault more painfully clear than with the dwindling ages of their elderly.