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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Revises Final Cleanup Plan for Ringwood Mines Superfund Site in Ringwood, New Jersey

Contact Information: 
Elias Rodriguez (rodriguez.elias@epa.gov)

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the Borough of Ringwood has satisfied the criteria specified in EPA's June 30, 2014 final cleanup plan for the Ringwood Mines Superfund site that allows for a recycling center to be built on the O'Connor Disposal Area. Plans for addressing other areas of the Ringwood Mines site will remain the same as finalized in the June 30, 2014 final cleanup plan.

The EPA proposed a cleanup plan in 2013 that called for the O'Connor Disposal Area to be excavated. The Borough of Ringwood also announced plans in 2013 to build a recycling center on top of the O'Connor Disposal Area, making the EPA's option to excavate unworkable for the ultimate use of the land. As a result, EPA included in its June 2014 final cleanup plan, an option that would allow for the recycling center if the Borough was able to present information to confirm that a recycling center would be built on the Disposal Area.

Under Superfund, the EPA must ensure that any cleanup plan it selects is protective of people's health while respecting local land use decisions. In its final cleanup plan, the EPA required the Borough of Ringwood to provide information that showed that proper plans were in place to build the recycling center, that its construction would not take longer than excavation and that the necessary funds would be available. This information was submitted to the EPA in December 2014, and EPA has determined that it meets the requirements set out in the June 2014 final cleanup plan. Under the cleanup option selected today to accommodate the local government's decision to build a recycling center, the waste in the O'Connor Disposal Area will be consolidated and capped to ensure that it does not pose a health threat.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the O'Connor Disposal Area and other areas were used to dump waste materials, including paint sludge and waste in drums, from the Ford Motor Company's automobile assembly plant in Mahwah, New Jersey. Sampling of the paint sludge found that it contained lead, arsenic, chromium and other contaminants. Exposure to these contaminants can have serious health effects and, in some cases, increase the risk of cancer. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to a child's ability to learn and a range of health problems in adults. To date, the cleanup of the Ringwood site has been conducted and paid for by Ford and the Borough of Ringwood with oversight by the EPA.

The 500-acre Ringwood Mines/Landfill site is in an iron mining district in the Borough of Ringwood, New Jersey. The site, which is in a forested area with about 50 private homes, includes abandoned mine shafts and pits, an inactive landfill and other disposal areas. The site was originally added to the Superfund list of hazardous waste sites in 1983. It was removed from the Superfund list in 1994 based on a finding that all appropriate cleanup actions had been taken. In 1995, 1998 and 2004, additional areas of paint sludge were discovered at the site, prompting further cleanup actions. The EPA restored the site to the Superfund list in 2006 due to the discovery of additional contaminated materials.

Between 1984 and 1988, Ford, with EPA oversight, conducted an investigation of the nature and extent of contamination at the site. Ford excavated and disposed of the paint sludge found and monitored groundwater and surface water on a long-term basis. In 1987-1988, 7,700 cubic yards of paint sludge and soil were removed from the site and approximately 600 cubic yards of paint sludge and 54 intact and crushed drums were removed in 1990. Since December 2004, approximately 53,528 tons of additional paint sludge, drum remnants and associated soil from the Peter's Mine Pit Area, the O'Connor Disposal Area and 16 other disposal areas within the site were removed and disposed of properly at permitted facilities.

The following are key elements of the cleanup plan:

EPA will require more frequent groundwater monitoring to confirm that contamination is not leaving the site and reaching any surface water. Quarterly and annual groundwater monitoring data will be posted on the EPA web site. This will enable the public and environmental regulators to ensure that pollution is not moving off-site.

Peter's Mine Pit
The EPA plan requires the excavation, removal and disposal to a facility outside of the area of some fill material, soil and debris from around the opening of the mine pit. The plan includes the option of separating out the nonhazardous material and placing it back in the pit. The area surrounding the pit will be excavated down to native soil, bedrock or the water table, whichever is encountered first. If drums or paint sludge are encountered, excavation will continue to ensure they will be removed. A permeable cap will be placed on the pit to raise its level above that of the surrounding ground to restore it for use as part of Ringwood State Park. Due to the depth and nature of the contamination at Peter's Mine, people are not exposed to any waste that might be present in the mine.

Cannon Mine Pit
Under the plan, all of the waste in the Cannon Mine Pit will be capped in place. A clean layer of soil will be placed over the cap and the area will be re-planted. The area will then be fenced off and the plan requires a deed notice to restrict activities that could disturb the cap.

O'Connor Disposal Area
An estimated 106,400 tons of contaminated soil, and waste, will be consolidated and covered with topsoil and asphalt. The Borough will subsequently construct a new municipal recycling center on a level area near the center and southern part of the area. Afterwards, more than a third of the acreage of the O'Connor Disposal Area, around its the perimeter, will be free of waste materials and will be restored with appropriate native vegetation. Long-term monitoring will ensure that the cover continues to prevent direct contact with underlying waste.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The cleanup of the Ringwood site has been conducted and paid for by Ford and the Borough of Ringwood with oversight by the EPA.

To view key documents for the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site including the change known as an Explanation of Significant Differences, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/ringwood

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