Friday, May 11, 2012

Experiential Journal: Exploring Ford's Legacy

By Samuel Arnowitz

          A few weeks ago I spent a day hiking in the Torne Valley, known by some as a portion of the Ford Superfund Site. As I was hiking, I kept a skeptical eye out for the infamous paint sludge dumped by the Ford Motor Company and then, low and behold, there is was right along the banks of a stream that feeds the Ramapo River.
          I took a few pictures and a short video for class and decided I was done with it. Then, a short while ago, some friends of mine who were and are students of the famous Chuck Stead were speaking on the subject and the contaminants that went into the ground as a result of the dumped paint sludge. Up to this point I had not given the contaminants of the paint sludge much thought, but I was now intrigued to find out more. I wanted to know what these chemical contaminants were and how they were affecting the ground around them.
          After going back to the Torne Valley and looking for evidence of the paint sludge, I came home and began reading through the research done by some of my fellow students as well as looking through the "Toxic Legacy" website and supporting websites.
          What I found was rather disturbing. After many tests, researchers have found proof of contaminants in parts per billion of the following heavy metals: Lead, Toluene, Mercury, Arsenic, Chromium, Cadmium, and Benzene. These heavy metals are considered to be volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. (Keep in mind that these harmful chemicals have been in the ground since the 1970’s.) These toxins are also know as carcinogens, carcinogens are cancer causing!
          With that in mind, it is important to recognize the seriousness of the situation. The Wanaque Reservoir is only a half mile from the dumping grounds in Ringwood. Up to 13,000 people live in this immediate area and over 50 towns use this reservoir as the source to their drinking water. And don’t think that the wildlife populations are spared.
          The health of our environment is at stake and requires our help.

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