By Brittany Shann
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the “Toxic Legacy” investigation was the revelation of the mobster affiliations. It not only made the story more interesting to readers but it disclosed a level of crime involvement that went beyond just the environmental destruction. The exposure of the Mafia involvement showed that there is another dimension to environmental scandals, which is something I and possibly other people would never expect.
It seems as though as the need for dumping of the waste became more prominent, the more the Mafia got involved. I began thinking about what would happen if there was little to no government regulation regarding waste dumping. If it was not something that was universally looked down upon, then regular businessmen could do it themselves without any legal repercussions, which may eradicate the presence of the Mafia. Of course, the result of this would most likely be rampant destruction of the environment over a long period of time. Conversely, however, if we as a society were able to establish a fundamental, universal stigma against environmental destruction, then it may be possible for big businesses to seek out various ways to properly dispose of toxins and other harmful materials. Unfortunately, this type of outlook is extremely idealistic and would require a huge shift in the paradigm of corporate America.
Mafia presence has been around for decades and trying to completely eliminate it is like trying to get rid of teen pregnancy or poverty; it will always be there regardless of the repercussions. Because of this, what are some methods that can be employed in order to deter the Mafia from becoming involved? Perhaps if the affiliation with these groups of people was lessened, crime and murder rates would go down. Unfortunately, it seems to be a convenient way to get rid of hazardous toxins without businessmen getting their hands dirty. It seems as if the only way to discourage the Mafia from getting involved with this business is if there was no more money in it, which means hazardous dumping would have to become legally acceptable. Again, the consequences of that would be just as detrimental. It’s hard to deem the situation completely irreparable; there must be some way to lessen criminal involvement.
Overall, becoming informed about the Mafia affiliation with the scandal in Mahwah has provided me with a new perspective to this environmental issue. I had no idea that it had gotten to such a dire level and the exposure of such crimes has empowered the citizens and gave society a chance to fight back.