Friday, February 4, 2011

Toxic Legacy: Why Does a Cleanup Take So Long?

By Lorraine Metz

The “Toxic Legacy” of Ringwood, NJ is quite honestly hard to get my mind around. With many trips to the town in the past and a handful of friends who have grown up there, it’s discouraging to consider the selfishness that Ford displayed in ‘taking care’ of their pollution and their mistakes. Even with just a looming possibility of the injuries, sicknesses and fatalities that the lead, arsenic and chemicals in the paint sludge are capable of, it should be enough of an incentive to take care of the issue at hand. It’s incredibly saddening to see that in our own backyard there is blatant disregard for human life and well-being.

While I battle with the idea of people treating others as something less, as something in the way of money, I get distracted by the thought of the effects on forestation and wildlife. Not only are people calling this area home but due to the rural nature of the area, there must be effects on other species living in the area and contamination in waterways.

With Ford cleanup services coming back on more than one occasion including 1995 and 1997, it’s just plain silly that the issue on hand is still as overwhelming as it was years ago. Why is it so difficult to make any lasting or substantial effort in order to cleanse the area? Granted the task at hand is large and spread out across the area, but it’s hard to not see people taking initiative in helping and fixing the problem. It is disheartening to see a powerful company disregard its mistakes.

Most difficult to swallow is that these residents have tried to have their voices heard, and that there has been substantial amounts written on the faults of Ford and the government to get back to safe conditions. With politicians promising to help and mentioning of the issues it’s incredible to think about how this all started not in recent years but in the ‘80s. With environmental journalism breaking the stories in recent years, it’s a step forward in the right direction but still frustrating that people have been in harm’s way for so long and will continue to be.

Despite the best interest of many in surrounding areas, the greed and the distance from the situation seems to make Ford and other capable agencies incapable of truly fixing the situation. I think with the awareness produced that eventually the situation will be resolved. The only question is when this will finally happen.

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