By Amanda Nesheiwat
For over 25 years, Ford Motor Company used areas in North Jersey, such as Ringwood and Mahwah, as dumping sites for toxic chemicals. Chemicals such as lead, benzene, arsenic, chromium, and antimony were found in the soil, rivers, lakes, and even the backyards of helpless town people who had to suffer the consequences of living near an irresponsible automotive assemblage plant. These large contaminated areas are not only detrimental to the plant and animal life, but also pose health threats to humans.
Lead, was found at 100 times the state safety level. Exposure to such high concentrations in to this dangerous element can lead to brain, kidney, and reproductive problems. Lead can cause developmental problems in children and can cause birth defects to humans and animals alike. Arsenic, found at 9 times the state safety level, can cause lung cancer and skin disorders. Other chemicals such as chromium, antimony, and benzene are also harmful to humans. This, for the people in and around Ringwood, means dangerous health risks. Many of the townspeople reported having trouble breathing and many children have been diagnosed with asthma and other upper respiratory illnesses. There have been reports of tumors, various types of cancer, and skin disorders. Most of these contaminants can be directly linked to these cancers and illnesses.
These chemicals are also harmful to animals and insects, especially to amphibians since they breathe through their skin. The entire ecosystem within a contaminated river nearby has been ruined and animals such as deer and bears will not have clean water to drink. The chemicals have been sitting on the soil for so long that they have probably even contaminated local groundwater which the community might need in the future. The fact that these truckers would dump piles of the sludge in such a remote area at night shows that they knew they were doing something wrong. The community knew what was happening but didn’t say anything because they were scared, and if they weren’t scared they were bribed with money to keep silent. These facts should have been major factors in determining whether or not Ford Motor Company is responsible for completely cleaning up the sludge.
The area of the so called "government supervised cleanup" still has plenty of the paint sludge in clear sight. Most of the people in Ringwood use the land daily and hunted and fished for their food. Doing these simple things made it very easy for the people to consume the toxic chemicals dumped onto their environment. There is no way that these chemicals could have not been a culprit in the illnesses and even deaths of the Ringwood community. Maybe Ford didn’t know that these chemicals would harm an entire community and habitat, but they should have at least showed some respect and cleaned up their mess.