Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Toxic Legacy": Clean up Questions

By Lisa Quaglino 

Learning about the issues of paint sludge and other contaminants dumped by Ford during the operation of their plant in Mahwah, the aspect that stood out the most to me was the clean up, or lack there of. Although there is no way that residents of this area could have guessed toxic waste was being dumped in their backyards, now that the information has been shared, it seems strange that not much has been done to reverse the damage. This is especially surprising after reading the multiple articles published about not only the dangers of paint sludge, but also the proximity of the readers to the actual danger.

One article I read discussed the problems officials in New Jersey are having with those in charge of the clean up right over the state line in New York. Besides the fact that the paint sludge is causing harm where it is located, it also affects people who live farther away from it. The article stated that “Ford consultants estimate that 7,000 to 9,000 cubic yards of paint sludge is buried just over the state line” and that little is being done to start and finish the clean up. Taking into consideration the amount of time that has passed since the original dumping and the number of attempts of clean up, it seems the only solution is for the community to get involved, especially those who can be directly impacted by it. People in New Jersey who receive water from sources contaminated with the paint sludge need to being commenting more on the dangers in order to quicken the process and push the issue to the forefront of the community.

Another issue that could be effecting the slow clean up process might be that not everyone in this area is familiar with the story of the Ford plant or its lasting effects on this part of the state. The issue of paint sludge was much more prominent a few years ago, and I think it is important that the community is updated on the situation so that it is not forgotten. If readers were given new statistics, or shown that not much has changed over the last few years, they might be more inclined to do something about it.

One statistic in particular from a 2009 article stated “The Record's testing revealed standing water that contained lead at 14 times the safety level established by New Jersey.” If more facts as shocking and scary as this one were easily available to the community, it might cause more people to get involved and finally lead to an end of a successful clean up.

Unfortunately, Ford was not stopped when they were originally dumping toxic waste into the backyards of North Jersey residents, but now that the information is public, it is essential that something be done, and quickly. Although there have been numerous clean ups, it is clear that not everything that can be done, has been done. The community needs to be educated in order to see major changes in areas of clean up and safety.

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