$21 Million Settlement to Superfund Cleanup at the Ringwood Mines/Landfill in New Jersey
Big settlement will pay for substantial cleanup at the complicated Superfund site with the honor of being placed on the National Priorities List twice, after being once removed.
Yesterday, May 6, 2019, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice and the state of New Jersey today announced the filing of a consent decree with the Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) and the Borough of Ringwood, New Jersey, to address remaining land-based contamination in three areas of the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund Site in Ringwood, New Jersey. “This important agreement ensures that the responsible parties will perform the work needed to address contamination at Ringwood Mines,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez in an official statement. “The EPA appreciates the dedication and passion of the community members and the members of the Community Advisory Group whose active engagement on this site has greatly informed our work.”
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. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, these areas were used to dispose of waste materials, including paint sludge and waste in drums, from Ford’s automobile assembly plant in Mahwah, New Jersey. Sampling of the paint sludge showed that it contained lead, arsenic, chromium and other contaminants.
The site was originally added to the Superfund list of hazardous waste sites in 1983 before being removed in 1994 based on a finding that all appropriate cleanup actions had been taken. In 1995, 1998 and 2004, however, additional areas of paint sludge were discovered at the site, prompting further cleanup actions. Whereupon, EPA restored the site to the Superfund list in 2006 due to this discovery of additional contaminated materials.
Between 1984 and 1988, Ford conducted an investigation of the nature and extent of contamination at the site with EPA oversight. 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. 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 settling parties will pay an estimated $17.6 million to clean up the site and pay the EPA approximately $3.6 million for certain past costs at the site. The consent decree was filed with the district court on May 6, 2019.
EPA’s cleanup plan, funded under this settlement, contains the following elements 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 capped, and the Borough of Ringwood will build a recycling center on this area of the site.
EPA requires groundwater monitoring to confirm that contamination is not leaving the site and threatening drinking water. Monitoring data will be posted on the agency’s Ringwood Mines web page, which is referenced below. EPA expects to propose a long-term plan to address groundwater contamination at the Ringwood Mines/Landfill site later this year.
The public has the opportunity to submit written comments on the consent decree, which is subject to a 60-day comment period and final approval by the court. A copy of the consent decree will be available at www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees
To view the EPA's web page for the site, please visit www.epa.gov/superfund/ringwood-mines