|Paint sludge clean up in Torne Valley (photo: Jan Barry)|
By Larissa Ledo
Decades after burying toxic paint sludge along the Ramapo River at Torne Valley, Ford finally came forward with a clean up. Overseen by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the clean up work now underway is expected to get rid of the toxic paint sludge along Torne Brook off Torne Valley Road across from the former Ramapo landfill.
Ford representatives said that they did not know about the lead paint being there, however the way the paint was buried underground, it’s clear the paint was purposely put there in a way that Ford contractors hoped no one would ever find it. The fight to get the lead out of there was not easy. After many years, in 2005 Ford began to remove more than 50,000 tons of contaminated soil from another dump site in Ringwood, NJ. In 2013, Ford contractors removed about 30,000 tons of paint sludge and tainted soil from a wellfield along the Ramapo River next to Torne Valley.
Lead is a very dangerous toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children, due to the sweet taste it has so children usually eat it. Lead exposure contributes to children developing intellectual disabilities. It is distributed to the brain, liver kidney, and bones.
In the Torne Valley case most people were not touching lead, however it was affecting the area’s water supply, which brings water to a large part of Rockland County. Lead also is in the water because of lead in water pipes, which has led to people drinking lead without knowing. Many people before using the water let it run for at least a minute or so for precaution.
In Ringwood, the Ramapoughs, a Native American tribe, have said that because of Ford’s pollution there were many premature deaths in their community. It is very sad to learn that something so toxic that can endanger the lives of so many people was around for so long. The pictures shown in The Record’s “Toxic Legacy” report of people’s skin from touching the lead paint without knowing are heartbreaking. It is even more sad to know that kids were mentally affected by it, affecting their capacity to learn.