Episode 3: Heart of Ringwood

Hazard NJ

Jun 21 2022 • 40 mins

In July 2005, Roger De Groat stepped outside his home in the secluded, forested community of Upper Ringwood to find a hole the size of a swimming pool where his backyard used to be. Roger’s home, like the rest in the neighborhood, sits atop an extensive system of abandoned iron mines, and sinkholes like these have opened every so often for decades.

But what's in the mines is a different kind of lingering threat.   Ford Motor Company turned the mines into a toxic waste dump in the '60s and '70s, with little regard for the people, overwhelmingly Ramapough Lenape Nation tribal members, that were dumped on. Today the community is gripped by cancer and other diseases that residents believe is tied to the chemicals Ford left behind.   When the EPA put the Ringwood Mines on the Superfund list, a shoddy cleanup left so much pollution behind that the site had to be relisted. A second try at cleaning up the mess is now underway. As climate change brings increasingly heavy rains to the area, toxic chemicals known to be in the groundwater are threatening to migrate towards a critical water supply reservoir nearby.