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EPA Proposes Plan to Address Pollution in Three Areas of Ringwood Mines Superfund Site in Ringwood, New Jersey; Results of Long-term Ground Water Monitoring to be Made Available to the Public; Public Encouraged to Comment on Proposed $46.7 million Cleanup Plan
Release Date: 09/30/2013
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, firstname.lastname@example.org
(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed a plan to address contamination in three areas of the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site in Ringwood, New Jersey. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, these areas were used to dispose of 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.
The proposal contains plans to address contamination in three areas of the site:
- Peter’s Mine Pit – the removal of some potentially contaminated soil from around the opening of the mine pit, followed by capping
- Cannon Mine Pit – capping of the mine pit
- O’Connor Disposal Area – excavation of the landfill, with a contingency if the Borough of Ringwood moves forward with its plan to build on this area of the site
The EPA will take public comments on its proposed cleanup plan during a 60-day public comment period beginning on October 2, 2013 and continuing through December 2, 2013. The EPA will also hold a public meeting to explain the proposed plan and take public comments on November 7, 2013 at 7:00pm at the Martin Ryerson Middle School, 130 Valley Road in Ringwood, NJ.
The 500-acre Ringwood Mines/Landfill site is in a historic 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, inactive landfills and open waste dumps. 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.
The actions in the proposed plan build on cleanup work performed at the Ringwood Mines Superfund site over many years. Between 1984 and 1988, Ford, with EPA oversight, conducted an investigation of the nature and extent of contamination at the site. Based on the results, the EPA ordered Ford to excavate and dispose of the paint sludge found and required the company to monitor ground water 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 53,500 tons of additional paint sludge, drum remnants and associated soil from the Peter’s Mine Pit Area, the O’Connor Disposal Area and 15 additional disposal areas within the site were removed and disposed of properly.
In 2011, the EPA began testing for lead on residential properties and dioxin in people’s homes. Wherever lead or dioxin has been found to exceed protective levels, the EPA has cleaned it up. More than 2,400 tons of soil has been removed from people’s yards.
The following are key elements of the proposed cleanup plan:
Peter’s Mine Pit
The EPA proposed plan would require the excavation, removal and disposal at a facility outside of the area of about 22,000 tons of fill material, soil and debris from around the opening of the mine pit. The plan includes the option of separating out the non-hazardous fill and placing it back in the pit. The area surrounding the pit will be excavated down to native soil or the water table, whichever is encountered first. If drums or paint sludge are encountered, 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 and full excavation would not provide any further protection of people’s health.
Cannon Mine Pit
Under the proposed 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 would then be fenced off and the plan requires a deed notice to prevent activities that could disturb it.
O’Connor Disposal Area
The cleanup plan calls for the O’Connor Disposal Area to be completely excavated and the waste to be disposed of at a facility outside the area. An estimated 166,000 tons of contaminated soil would be removed from the O’Connor Disposal Area and the excavated areas would be covered with topsoil and re-planted.
The proposal includes a second option for this area of the site because the Borough of Ringwood recently informed the EPA that it is planning to move its recycling center from its current location in Upper Ringwood to the O’Connor Disposal Area. If the borough moves forward with its plan to construct a municipal facility at the O’Connor Disposal Area, the proposed plan would allow for this change under this “contingency remedy.” Under the contingency, the EPA would allow the capping of waste within the portion of the O’Connor Disposal Area that would be used for the proposed facility. The borough has indicated that capping portions of the O’Connor Disposal Area would create a level area near the center and southern part of the area upon which it would construct the proposed facility. If the area was used for a municipal facility, much of it would likely be capped. Excavation of the contaminated soil would still be required for the portion of the O’Connor Disposal Area that would not be used for a facility. The EPA is taking public comment on both options.
Ground Water Monitoring
The EPA is currently investigating ground water contamination in all areas of the Ringwood Mines site and will issue a separate proposed plan to address the ground water when the investigation has concluded. Under that future plan, the EPA intends to require ground water monitoring into the indefinite future for all areas of the site. The plan proposed today also requires ground water monitoring. The results of all the ground water monitoring will be posted on the EPA website at: https://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/ringwood/index.html.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the 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 is being conducted and paid for by Ford and the Borough of Ringwood with oversight by the EPA. The cost of the cleanup plan is currently estimated to be $46.7 million.
Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:
Joseph A. Gowers, Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 2
290 Broadway, 19th Fl.
New York, N.Y. 10007-1866
To read EPA’s proposed cleanup plan, go to: https://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/ringwood/index.html.
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