Sunday, May 10, 2015

Field Trip to Examine Paint Sludge Dumps

Ramapo College students gather at Ramapo Saltbox Environmental Research Center

Photo Essay by Eric Christiansen

For my CEC project I investigated some of the sites of the industrial paint sludge pollution left by the Ford Motor Company.  This sludge is a major concern of residents about cancer clusters in communities directly exposed to the pollution as well as elevated lead levels in ground and surface water.

Prof. Chuck Stead handling paint sludge

Specifically, I visited the pollution surrounding the Ramapo Saltbox Environmental Research Center on Torne Valley Road in Hillburn, NY and the superfund site at Ringwood mines in New Jersey.

Chips of dried paint sludge
Dried paint sludge on forest floor

Exploring these areas has given me a frame of reference for the toxic legacy of Ford’s pollution.  Growing up in this area, I always heard about the dumping and the environmental dangers associated with it, but this class and this field work has expanded my knowledge and put it all into perspective.

Area where paint sludge is to be removed by Ford
Part of forest cut down for paint sludge removal in Torne Valley

Seeing the paint sludge with my own eyes expanded my understanding of how this pollution affects the immediate environment, local communities, and everyone else.

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