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EPA Finalizes $45 Million* Plan to Address Pollution in Three Areas of Ringwood Mines Superfund Site in Ringwood, New Jersey

Release Date: 07/01/2014
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664,

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its 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. 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 cost of the cleanup plan for the three areas is currently estimated to be *$44.8 million. (Corrected in news release to reflect figures in Record of Decision).

      The decision contains the following plans to address contamination in three areas of the site:
      • Peter’s Mine Pit – Contaminated soil and other material will be removed from around the opening of the mine pit and the pit will be capped.
      • Cannon Mine Pit – The mine pit will be capped.
      • O’Connor Disposal Area – The area will be excavated, with a contingency to consolidate and cap wastes if the Borough of Ringwood moves forward with its plan to build a recycling center on this area of the site.
      The EPA held a public meeting in Ringwood on November 7, 2013 to explain its proposed plan, encouraged comments from the public for over 120 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan. The EPA has prepared detailed responses to the comments, which can be found in the EPA’s Responsiveness Summary.

      EPA recognizes and is grateful for the dedication and perseverance of members of the Ramapough tribe, community members and the Community Advisory Group for the site who have for years remained focused on remediation of the Ringwood Mines site.

      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, 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.

      The actions in the 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. Ford excavated and disposed of the paint sludge found and monitored 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 53,528 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 cleanup plan:

      EPA will require more frequent ground water monitoring to confirm that contamination is not leaving the site and reaching any surface water. Ground water monitoring data will be posted on the EPA web site.

      Peter’s Mine Pit
      The EPA plan requires the excavation, removal and disposal to 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 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 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 106,400 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 plan includes a second option for this area of the site because the Borough of Ringwood 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 and satisfies EPA’s requirement concerning the timely construction of the facility, the 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 with asphalt or concrete.

      If the borough constructs the recycling center on the site of the O’Connor Disposal Area, some acreage around the perimeter of that area will be fully excavated and restored with appropriate native vegetation.

      If the borough does not finalize its plans for a recycling center and within six months from today provide the EPA with assurances regarding the timely construction of the facility, the EPA’s selection of complete excavation of the O’Connor Disposal Area will continue in effect.

      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 has been conducted and paid for by Ford and the Borough of Ringwood with oversight by the EPA. The EPA expects to enter into an agreement with Ford and the Borough to implement this cleanup as well.

      To view the EPA’s record of decision for the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site, please visit:

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