Most of Ford’s remaining pollution to stay in Ringwood under cheaper cleanup deal with EPA

Federal environmental officials reached a $21 million settlement late Monday with Ford Motor Co. and Ringwood on a controversial cleanup of the borough’s sprawling Superfund site that will leave tons of polluted soil in place under a barrier.

The agreement filed in U.S. District Court is another step toward affirming a plan that would keep 166,000 tons of contaminated soil at the O’Connor Disposal Area despite the objections of residents who live nearby, including many members of the Ramapough Lenape tribe.

“The fight is not over,” Vincent Mann, chief of the Ramapough’s Turtle Clan, said of the settlement. “We are going to try everything we can to stop this, because that pollution is going to sit there forever and affect our people, the land, the plants and the animals.”

The pollution dates back a half-century to when contractors for Ford Motor Co. began taking toxic paint sludge from its Mahwah factory and dumping it in the forests and old iron mines of Upper Ringwood next to a low-income neighborhood. At the time, Ringwood officials gave permission to Ford, which is why the borough is also on the hook for the cleanup.

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