By Benjamin Reuter
I live in Wanaque, New Jersey and the “Toxic Legacy” article for The Record brings a story closer to home than it already was. I knew about the paint sludge that is strewn about the forest floor in Upper Ringwood. I used to go hiking back there with a couple of my friends and we’d point it out to each other. It is absolutely disgusting to see that kind of pollution in such a beautiful area of New Jersey.
The worst part about the whole dilemma is the fact that people still live on top of this toxic waste and there is really nothing that they can do as a small family to get it out of their land. They had their buildings set on top of these deposits of chemical waste without knowing it was there or without knowing how dangerous it really was for their health.
I went to Lakeland Regional High School and I knew many of the people that lived in the area where the toxic sludge exists. I never really asked my friends who lived up there about it because at the time I did not know much about the topic other than there was paint sludge all around their homes. I did ask my one friend who has relatives that live amongst the paint sludge about the stuff and all I ever got from him was, “That shit is everywhere. My parents moved away from that area to leave all that garbage and find a better place in Ringwood to live.” My friend doesn’t have extremely strong ties with his family that still lives near the mine areas, due to family issues and such, but he always pointed out that the paint sludge just gave his parents just another reason to leave that area and find a different home to live in. He seems happy with the decision.