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EPA Reaches Agreement With Ford Motor Company to Reinvestigate Passaic County Site (Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund Site)

Release Date: 9/23/2005
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FOR RELEASE: Friday, September 23, 2005

(#05108) NEW YORK -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with the Ford Motor Company, requiring Ford to reevaluate the extent of contamination remaining at the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site located in the Borough of Ringwood, New Jersey. Ford has removed over 13,000 tons of waste materials from the site. These wastes contained hazardous substances including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). EPA has determined that further investigation of the contamination is necessary because additional wastes have been found at the site. EPA also ordered the Borough of Ringwood, the owner of a large portion of the site, to participate and cooperate in the investigation.

"EPA is committed to ensuring that the community is protected from the hazardous substances disposed of at the Ringwood Mines site," said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "We look forward to working with the public as the investigation proceeds, and sharing information as it becomes available."

The approximately 455-acre site operated as an iron mine from the 1700's through the 1930's. In 1965, a subsidiary of Ford purchased property in Ringwood, which is now part of the site. From 1967 through 1971, Ford's waste hauler disposed of waste materials at the site from its Mahwah automobile assembly plant, including paint sludge and waste contained in drums.

In 1982, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) sampled both ground water and water present on the surface of the site, and found VOCs, lead and arsenic. After evaluating information provided by the NJDEP, EPA added the site to the National Priorities List (NPL) of the most contaminated hazardous waste sites in September 1983.

From 1984 through 1987, Ford performed a study at the site to determine the nature and extent of contamination. This study was performed with EPA oversight, and identified various paint sludge disposal areas. Sampling results of the paint sludge showed that the sludge contained lead, arsenic, chromium, naphthalene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, trichloroethene and low levels of PCBs. The study also found that while ground water contained arsenic, lead and thallium above safe drinking water levels, the public water supply was not impacted. In 1987, EPA ordered Ford to remove the paint sludge, and the company removed approximately 7,000 cubic yards of sludge and related soil from the site.

EPA selected a long-term cleanup plan for the site in September 1988. Since known areas of paint sludge had been removed and contaminants from the site were not entering the public water supply, EPA selected a cleanup plan consisting of long-term environmental monitoring. With EPA oversight, Ford initiated the long-term monitoring program in 1989. The results showed that the site no longer posed a threat to the public or environment, and EPA formally deleted the site from the NPL in November 1994.

Ford has returned to the site several times since it was deleted from the NPL to remove additional paint sludge and drums that were found by the community. In December 2004, Ford began a site-wide field reconnaissance survey to locate additional deposits of paint sludge. Preliminary findings of this survey indicate that significant amounts of municipal solid waste are found with the paint sludge. The results of this survey will be used to plan the new investigation.

In accordance with the terms of the September 21, 2005 agreement between EPA and Ford, the company will perform the investigation subject to penalties of up to $3,000 a day for violations of the agreement. The agreement also requires Ford to pay over $226,000 to EPA for the Agency's past costs. Additionally, on September 21, EPA ordered the Borough of Ringwood to participate with Ford in the investigation of the site.

For additional information about the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund site, please visit the EPA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/0200663c.pdf.