Friday, February 4, 2011

Toxic Legacy: An Under-reported Story

By Lindsey de Stefan

I was truly shocked as I perused through the articles, pictures, and videos pertaining to Ford Motor Company’s “Toxic Legacy” in northern New Jersey. There are myriad reasons to be horrified as one learns more and more about this situation, and I, for one, was alarmed for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, I have been a resident of northern New Jersey for all of my 22 years of existence. And yet, I never heard anything about this horrific situation going on practically in my own backyard. I am hardly ignorant or uneducated on current events. Therefore, I believe that this problem has gone underreported. It has not been given enough attention. If it had, perhaps many more people would be outraged, rather than just those who are directly effected.

That brings me to my next point. Ford Motor Co. made a ridiculous mess out of the land and water in Ringwood by dumping their waste and leaving paint sludge everywhere. The waste they dumped during their 25-year run as the largest plant in the nation has had toxic medical effects on the Ramapoughs, the residents of that particular area. This may sound incredibly naïve, but how can anyone be okay with this? How can a company know that their actions have had – and continue to have – a detrimental impact on a number of human beings, in some cases resulting in death, and not care at all? How do Ford’s big wigs sleep at night?

For a behemoth company like Ford, shelling out the money for a proper cleanup to prevent any more illness or pollution, as well as assisting those that have already been affected, should hardly be a drop in the bucket. I doubt their bottom line will be much impacted. It seems silly that the state or the Environmental Protection Agency should have to step in to demand that the company do what is right and just – and what they should have done since the closing of the plant in 1980. It is truly sickening to think that a company so eagerly waives responsibility in a toxic and dangerous situation simply to protect their profits.

This is an outraging and horrific situation, and one that residents of New Jersey need to be much more aware of. It has the potential to affect thousands of us if it finds its way into our reservoirs and contaminates our drinking water. But even if that never happens, we should still show compassion for our environment and our fellow New Jersey citizens. Just because it does not impact you or someone you love directly certainly does not mean that this situation should go ignored.

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