Wednesday, March 4, 2015
A Persistent Quest to Clean Up Pollution in the Ramapo River Region
By Brianna Farulla
The “Toxic Legacy” report is quite informative in regards to the Ford Motor plant and its paint sludge dilemma. However, Prof. Chuck Stead brought the issue of its impact on the Ramapo River to life. His empowering sense of advocacy towards the subject is enough to draw anybody into the matter. Even if somebody has no regard for environmental issues, Stead could potentially catch their interest, as he did mine. After listening to his presentation, I became not only more concerned than I previously was, but more enraged. I wasn’t a fan of Ford after hearing of their antics, but I began to develop a disgust for the people behind the decision to dump the paint sludge, once Stead discussed his first-hand experience with representatives from the company.
One of the men that he spoke with openly admitted to being aware of his knowledge that toxic material would travel into the Ramapo River. However, it came down to either keeping his job or contaminating others. Of course, he wasn’t the only person behind Ford’s choice, but he and whoever else was involved clearly had no regard for lives besides their own. At first, they probably figured that if anything, only the Ramapoughs in the area would suffer from negative effects. And who cares about them, right? It wasn’t taken into consideration that aside from the negative connotations that people have falsely labeled them with over the years, that they are human as well. Would Ford have thought twice about what they were about to do if they knew that they were going to have an impact on the water system throughout wealthy Bergen County?
It clearly would have been frowned upon to disrupt the lives of the middle and upper class. If they put just a tad bit more thought behind what they were about to do, they probably would have found elsewhere to store their paint sludge real quick. It troubled me to hear that for years nobody had cared that Stead was bringing students to paint sludge dump sites along the Ramapo River and Torne Brook near the Ramapo Landfill Superfund site. However, once kids from a private college prep school were brought into the mix, Stead immediately received phone calls explaining how he was trespassing onto private property and partaking in illegal activity. The point is, everyone turned a blind eye to him taking average pupils around the area. Once you take the children of people who have money there it’s a completely different story.
It’s sad that there’s no sense of balance when it comes to social class. The only aspect that the lower, upper and middle class now share are the toxins in their drinking water. Around 42,000 tons of waste have been removed from the United Water well field site along the Ramapo River. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around what damage that waste has possibly caused over time. The contamination is so severe that only construction trucks that have never been used before could be used on the project. Now it’s 15 million dollars later and an abundance of infected water for decades since the dumping. Was it really worth it, Ford?