Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is my Drinking Water Safe?

    Yes. Drinking water in the Borough of Ringwood- from the Boroughs wells and to the minimal extent potable water for the Borough is provided by the Wanaque Reservoir – is completely safe for drinking, bathing and washing. There is no contamination in these potable water sources, posing no concern to residents. Our citizens should feel confident in their consumption and potable use of water - including the use for periodic watering at our parks, public properties and school fields.

    In May 2018, Excel Environmental Resources issued a report based on water sampling from three Borough municipal production wells collected in April 2018. The full report can be found here.

    The Borough issues an annual Water Quality Report that provides residents with in-depth information on their drinking water. The 2017 Water Quality Report can be found here.

    EPA: “Residents receive their water from public water supplies.  These supplies routinely test their water; tests reveal the water meets all appropriate standards.” EPA presentation at Dec. 6, 2016 public meeting regarding the results and data from the August 2016 Annual Groundwater and Surface Investigation sampling event (Power Point Presentation)

    Is there a threat form the Superfund site to my water source?

    No. There has been no detection of the contaminants on the Superfund site in or near residents drinking water source, including the Wanaque Reservoir.

    EPA: “Residents receive their water from public water supplies.  These supplies routinely test their water; tests reveal the water meets all appropriate standards.” EPA presentation at Dec. 6, 2016 public meeting regarding the results and data from the August 2016 Annual Groundwater and Surface Investigation sampling event (Power Point Presentation)

    EPA: “ . . . The Wanaque Reservoir has not been impacted by Site contamination and is not expected to be impacted by Site contamination in the future . . .” http://www.ringwoodnj.net/filestorage/3886/9451/June_2017_EPA_Statement_about_NJDWSC_Report_May_2017_(Jacobs_Engineering).pdf

     

    Why have there been reports of water contamination; why should I not be concerned about my drinking water?


    A chemical, known as 1,4-Dioxane, has been found in groundwater and limited surface water areas of the Ringwood Superfund site where paint sludge was dumped more than 40 years ago. This has not posed any threat to Ringwood Residents drinking water, nor has there ever been any detected in the Wanaque Reservoir. 

    EPA: “Residents receive their water from public water supplies.  These supplies routinely test their water; tests reveal the water meets all appropriate standards.” EPA presentation at Dec. 6, 2016 public meeting regarding the results and data from the August 2016 Annual Groundwater and Surface Investigation sampling event (Power Point Presentation)

    EPA: “ . . . The Wanaque Reservoir has not been impacted by Site contamination and is not expected to be impacted by Site contamination in the future . . .” http://www.ringwoodnj.net/filestorage/3886/9451/June_2017_EPA_Statement_about_NJDWSC_Report_May_2017_(Jacobs_Engineering).pdf

    Does watering of lawns, parks or playing fields pose any concern to my family or the community?

    No. Through various test, no contaminant has been found in Ringwood’s potable water sources – which are used for watering of parks and playing fields, as well as for drinking.  Nor has there ever been any detected in the Wanaque Reservoir.

    EPA: “Residents receive their water from public water supplies.  These supplies routinely test their water; tests reveal the water meets all appropriate standards.” EPA presentation at Dec. 6, 2016 public meeting regarding the results and data from the August 2016 Annual Groundwater and Surface Investigation sampling event (Power Point Presentation)

     

    EPA: “ . . . The Wanaque Reservoir has not been impacted by Site contamination and is not expected to be impacted by Site contamination in the future . . .” http://www.ringwoodnj.net/filestorage/3886/9451/June_2017_EPA_Statement_about_NJDWSC_Report_May_2017_(Jacobs_Engineering).pdf

    What is the difference between ground water and drinking water?

    Potable water sources – such as our drinking water – are drawn from deeper water wells in a different aquifer than the groundwater in the Superfund site in Ringwood.  Groundwater- -not to be confused with potable drinking water used by residents- is water that Is found beneath the ground surface, often between saturated soul and solid rick,Groundwater:

    EPA defines groundwater as water that occurs below land. It occurs in 2 zones:

    1. The unsaturated zone located above the top of the actual water table, which is migrating down vertically to the water table; and
    2. The saturated zone where the groundwater accumulates and flows laterally as well as vertically to deeper depths until it ultimately hits an impermeable zone where it can no longer penetrate.  Groundwater can occur in soil and I rock, However, in rock, it only occurs in fractures with in the rock. Groundwater samples are collected from monitoring wells that are designed for specific agency specifications and prior the sampling, each monitoring well is purged by pumping to remove stagnant water in the well to ensure that, when a sample is collected, it is of groundwater actually flowing into the well from the aquifer and thus representative of groundwater quality in the aquifer, not just stagnant water sitting in the monitoring well.

    Surface Water: EPA defines surface water as water that occurs about the ground surface, including streams, rivers, lakes and ponds. It is sampled using specific methods but is essentially a “grab sample” from the surface water body with no “purging” involved,

    Mine Water: is water that occurs and has accumulated within a subsurface mine structure.  It is distinguished from groundwater because, even though it occurs under the ground surface, it can originate from overland flow of surface water or precipitation coming in from above and/or from groundwater from the bedrock in which the mine structure is located.

    However, unlike a ground water sample collected from a monitoring well, the mine structure samples are not collected after a proper purging to remove stagnant water in the manner that a monitoring well is purged. This is because the mine structures and the volume of water they contain is too significant to pump completely out before a sample is taken.

    Samples of water from mine structures such as the PMP Air Shaft and the CMP Shaft are therefore “grab samples” of water sitting in these structures, and not of water flowing into them from the adjacent aquifer. This skews the data in terms of our ability to directly compare data from monitoring wells to data from the Mine Structures because we don’t know how long the stagnant water has been “sitting” in them or really what the data actually represent (the aquifer, the deeper mine, the Shaft itself, or all 3). For the past 2+years, data from monitoring wells have therefore been summarized separately from the Mine Structure data generated from sampling the PMP and CMP Shafts and it has been evaluated keeping in mind the aforementioned concerns.

    What is the risk of contamination found in the ground water to the Wanaque Reservoir and my drinking water?

    None. Although the Wanaque Reservoir is not the primary source of drinking water to the Borough of Ringwood, the Borough is concerned about its protection as the Reservoir is the source of drinking water for about 14 other communities in the region or about 2.5 million people. Ringwood utilized the Wanaque Reservoir as a back-up source for potable water during select summer months. Recent years and percentage in which the Borough utilized the Reservoir, include:

    • 2008 – 41.57% (Improvements to Borough water system to become more self-sufficient occurred from 2008-2014)
    • 2014 – 3.02%
    • 2015 – 3.1%
    • 2016 – 8.62% (during Boroughs water tank repair project)
    • 2017- -5.8% (to date during Boroughs water tank repair project)

    It is important to underscore that the chemical, known as 1,4-Dioxane has never been detected in the Reservoir. In fact, the report recently presented by the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission (the agency which is responsible for and operates the Wanaque Reservoir) indicated that the chemical has not been detected in the Reservoir and that the probability of the chemical reaching the reservoir’s treatment plant – 7.5 miles from the Superfund site – is low. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has repeatedly stated that the Wanaque Reservoir has not been impacted by Superfund site contamination and is not expected to be impacted by the Site in the near future – that there is no existing or imminent health concern.

    EPA: “Residents receive their water from public water supplies.  These supplies routinely test their water; tests reveal the water meets all appropriate standards.” EPA presentation at Dec. 6, 2016 public meeting regarding the results and data from the August 2016 Annual Groundwater and Surface Investigation sampling event (Power Point Presentation)
    EPA: “ . . . The Wanaque Reservoir has not been impacted by Site contamination and is not expected to be impacted by Site contamination in the future . . .” http://www.ringwoodnj.net/filestorage/3886/9451/June_2017_EPA_Statement_about_NJDWSC_Report_May_2017_(Jacobs_Engineering).pdf

    What is 1,4-Dioxane?

    1,4-Dioxane is a synthetic industrial chemical that is completely mixable with water. It is found in many products, including paint strippers, dyes, greases, varnishes and waxes; it is also found in some consumer products (deodorants, shampoos and cosmetics). 1,4-Dioxane was commonly used as a stabilizer for certain chlorinated solvents such as 1,1,1,-trichloroethane. 1,4-Dioxane does not present a significant threat to human health under current Site circumstances; no one is drinking the groundwater at the Site or is otherwise exposed to significant levels of 1,4-Dioxane.

    EPA: “ . . . 1,4-Dioxane is not Dixoin.” EPA presentation at Dec. 6, 2016 public meeting regarding the results and data from the August 2016 Annual Groundwater and Surface Investigation sampling event (Power Point Presentation)

    Where was 1,4-Dioxane found?

    1,4-Dioxane was detected primarily in the Peter’s Mine portion of the site. It was not detected at levels above the New Jersey’s standard in the samples collected from off-site locations. 1,4-Dioxane has never been detected in the Wanaque Reservoir or any other potable water sources in the Borough.

    Was there ever any detection of 1,4-Dioxane found in the Boroughs potable water source?

    The Borough first tested for 1,4-Dioxane in 2013, a year prior to the USEPA Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule which required the testing of 1,4-Dioxane in all public water supplies. The results from the 2013 test confirmed through multiple rounds of sampling that 1,4-Dioxane was not detected or that only traces were reported that were confirmed through subsequent testing to be non-detect. All four of the Boroughs Production Wells were included in the 2013 testing. Additional test from 2014 and 2016 again confirmed that 1,4-Dioxane was not detected in the Boroughs Production Wells. The most recent water sampling test in April 2018, taken from three Borough municipal production wells, again confirmed no detection of 1,4-Dioxane. This latest full report can be viewed here.

    EPA: “Residents receive their water from public water supplies.  These supplies routinely test their water; tests reveal the water meets all appropriate standards.” EPA presentation at Dec. 6, 2016 public meeting regarding the results and data from the August 2016 Annual Groundwater and Surface Investigation sampling event (Power Point Presentation)

    North Jersey District Water Supply Commission: The chemical has not been detected in the Reservoir and the probability of the chemical reaching the Reservoir’s treatment plant is low. http://www.ringwoodnj.net/filestorage/3886/9451/Wanaque_Reservoir_Report_May_2017.pdf

    EPA: “ . . . The Wanaque Reservoir has not been impacted by Site contamination and is not expected to be impacted by Site contamination in the future . . .” http://www.ringwoodnj.net/filestorage/3886/9451/June_2017_EPA_Statement_about_NJDWSC_Report_May_2017_(Jacobs_Engineering).pdf

    What is the proposed remedy for the newly discovered contamination at the site, since the EPA has relisted the Ringwood Mines on the National Priority List for Superfund?

    Removal and off-site disposal of paint sludge/paint wastes, drums or any drum remnants which are encountered during remedy implementation is required. An Engineered Soil Cover – called a “Cap” – will be placed over any residual contaminated material. This two-foot Engineered Cap of soil and synthetic material will form a cover to isolate the underlying materials and contaminants, preventing contact with people or wildlife.  The Engineered Cap will keep the materials being capped in place and, designed and installed properly, is protective of human health and the environment at this site.   The benefits of the Engineered Cap, which will include Institutional Controls to ensure the long-term management of the site, include:

    • Ensures protection of public health and the environment;
    • Prevention of rain and snowmelt from seeping through the material and carrying contaminants to the groundwater;
    • Prevention of storm water runoff from carrying contaminated material offsite or into lakes and streams;
    • Prevention of any distribution of contaminated material offsite by wind;
    • Readily implemented in a comparatively short time frame and will easily blend into the surrounding topography;
    • Limited impact in terms of taxes to the community and its residents;
    • Minimally invasive and minimally disruptive to the community.

     

    Why would we not just remove the contamination completely from the area?

    Unlike most Superfund Sites, the contaminants are not simply located on one solid piece of property. Much of the material is located in and around two former mines. Full removal of the material from these very deep mines posed potentially dangerous conditions and complications for the community, with no additional health or environmental benefits. The Borough of Ringwood also has been named as potentially responsible party, and will be responsible to financially contribute to the cost of the remedy.

    According to the September 2016 court Transcript of Motion, Judge Caposela states, “…we are going to have problems with breach of contract, and it’s my opinion, quite honestly, that if the voters on November 8th were to vote that – you know, in favor of this, it would create a breach of contract for the borough of Ringwood that I believe would expose them to substantial financial liability. It would also – from that – from the standpoint of the lawsuit and damages but then the cost of that would, I think, have to be shouldered by the taxpayers and the Borough. I am not aware of any insurance you buy for breach of contract.”

    How reliable is a cap?

    Capping has regularly been utilized at Superfund Sites throughout the nation to protect human health and the environment. Caps isolate the contamination and prevent rain and snowmelt from seeping through the material and carrying contaminants to the groundwater. The caps also prevent storm water and wind from distributing materials off site, and prevent direct or indirect contact with humans and wildlife.

    It also is important to note that there is an ongoing inspection, monitoring and maintenance of all the caps on a regular basis.

    •  Biennial cap inspection requirement: Caps are inspected every two years for the life/duration of the remedy.  Independent consultants are retained to conduct this review and analysis, and submit a certified inspection report saying the caps are still intact and protective of human health and the environment.
    • Once the remedies are implemented, there are requirements that EPA and the potentially responsible parties conduct a survey and review of the caps every five years to ensure that the remedies implemented are still protective.

    View the EPA CITIZENS CAPPING GUIDE by clicking here.

    Should Ford Motor Company simply pay for the removal of the contamination – why are residents of the community responsible?

    Although in August 2016 the Borough submitted a request to EPA for an exemption from CERCLA liability for the O’Connor Site, the EPA denied the request. Primarily, the EPA’s decision was based on their position that the Boroughs liability was not just due to the nature of it acquisition of portions of the superfund Site owned by the Borough via tax foreclosure but also the Borough past actions which were directly or indirectly related to the dumping of waste at the Site. The EPA therefore has identified Ringwood Borough also as a potentially responsible party under the Superfund law requiring the Borough to pay a portion of the remedy. This stems from allegations by EPA, Ford and even some Borough residents that the Borough participated in an/or was complacent in the dumping of solid waste at the Site. Former Mayor John Kulik stated in correspondence to Ford that “… the Ringwood council and myself have permitted the dumping of all the industrial waste from the Mahwah Ford assembly plant to be disposed of in this area known as the Ringwood Mines.” You can view this letter by click here.

    Is it true that our taxes could go up if all the contamination is removed?

    Yes. If EPA had selected the full excavation remedy, the additional cost would have been respectably:

    • O’Connor Site - $30 million
    • Peter’s Mine - $41 million
    • Cannon Mine Pit - $11 million

    The Borough would have been expected to contribute to this cost. That may have required increase revenue through taxes to fund such a plan. Also, the extensive community disturbance through full excavation and trucking, was a concern.

    According to the September 2016 court Transcript of Motion, Judge Caposela states, “…which would result in a substantial damage award against the Borough and result in a substantial increase in your property taxes to pay the award.”

    Doesn’t the Borough have insurance to simply cover any of the responsibility under Superfund?

    No. Ringwood Borough does have insurance, which already has covered the cost of litigation, engineering and other professional services over the years – and, that coverage also will go towards payment of the Borough’s share of the costs of the remedial action. Yet, it is important to underscore that the Borough’s insurers have done so under a “Reservation of Rights” letter, meaning the Insurers can deny coverage at any time and they can still sue the Borough for those costs. These policies do not cover all the costs involved, and would not cover all of the Borough’s portion to remove all possible contaminants from the area. The partial settlement which the Borough reached with their Insurers is limited to the capping remedies only.

    Also, it was expected that the insurers would have denied the Borough’s claim for the full excavation remedy (on the basis that it was not technically warranted, since the capping remedy also was protective and approved by the EPA). The Borough would have been left with no option but to use taxpayer dollars to pay lawyers to assert their rights of coverage under the insurance policies – with no guarantee of a successful outcome and no decision (after appeals have been exhausted) for several years. At the same time, if the Borough refused to cooperate or contribute to the excavation remedy, Ford likely would have sued the Borough for contribution; and the EPA and NJDEP also may have brought an enforcement lawsuit against the Borough. That would result in yet more legal fees paid directly from taxpayer dollars to defend against these lawsuits.

    -Non-Waiver of Rights “…The Insurers reserve all rights with regard to all issues of defense and indemnity… The Insurers specifically reserve their rights as to allocation of indemnity or future defense cost not paid under this Agreement.”

    According to the September 2016 court Transcript of Motion, Judge Caposela states, “…we are going to have problems with breach of contract, and it’s my opinion, quite honestly, that if the voters on November 8th were to vote that – you know, in favor of this, it would create a breach of contract for the borough of Ringwood that I believe would expose them to substantial financial liability. It would also – from that – from the standpoint of the lawsuit and damages but then the cost of that would, I think, have to be shouldered by the taxpayers and the Borough. I am not aware of any insurance you buy for breach of contract.”

    What risk does leaving the toxins in place pose to our water supply – or to the community?

    There are no risks to our water supply. In fact, the capping remedy is intended to protect human health and the environment, including our water sources, by isolating contaminants, preventing contact with people or wildlife, and keeping them in place to avoid the spread of contamination. You can view the judges highlighted decision here.

    How close is the nearest home to where the recycling center will go? Will the planned new recycling center be closer to homes than the current center?

    The planned new Borough recycling center will not be closer to any homes. The center will be about the same distance from homes as the current center, if not further away.

    Is there a health concern?

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated repeatedly that the Wanaque Reservoir has not been impacted by site contamination and is not expected to be impacted in the near future –that there is no imminent health concern.

    What kind of water testing has occurred in the area and how often?

    Groundwater and surface water quality have been monitored at the site and nearby since the 1980s, and the EPA consistently has reported that there is no evidence that the groundwater or the surface water from the Site is impacting the Wanaque Reservoir.

    Surface water at the site has been sampled several times in the 1990s and multiple times from 2000 to 2017. Results continue to indicate that contamination at the site has not impacted the Wanaque Reservoir. Groundwater sampling has shown limited and sporadically elevated levels of some contaminants, including benzene, arsenic and lead. 1,4-dioxane also has been detected in groundwater at the site. Under EPA oversight, a feasibility study is currently being prepared which will evaluate remedial alternatives for addressing groundwater contamination at the Ringwood Mines/Landfill site.

    Does the 1,4-Dioxane detections call into question the protectiveness of the Contingency Remedy for OCDA?

    No. The 1,4-Dioxane detections have been mainly in the Peter’s Mine Area.
    Walter Mugdan, EPA, previously stated: “The results for one shallow well (OB-17) located adjacent to the southern end of the OCDA show concentrations of 1,4-Dioxane above the New Jersey interim standard, but the OCDA does not appear to contribute significantly to the 1,4-Dioxane present in groundwater and surface water at the site”

    In a public statement in response to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission’s Report, EPA also noted that report “does not contain any new information that calls into question the protectiveness of the cleanup plan already selected for fill material in the Peters Mine Pit, Cannon Mine Pit and O’Connor Disposal Areas of the Site.”

    Is there a source of 1,4-Dioxane in OCDA since it was detected in the groundwater downgradient of OCDA?

    Due to concerns raised by the Borough of the detection of 1,4-Dioxane in OB-17 and the former presence of a Sludge Removal Area within OCDA, Ford conducted additional investigation within OCDA specifically for 1,4-Dioxane.  In November, 2016, Ford proposed (and EPA approved) a sampling plan within the former SR area in OCDA to test for 1,4-Dioxane (to determine whether there remained a localized source of 1,4-Dioxane in OCDA) and also tested two samples of paint waste surficial fragments collected from within OCDA. 

    • The objective of the focused investigation was to assess whether or not a localized source of 1,4-Dioxane exists within the former paint waste removal area within the OCDA.  As shown in the enclosed Figure 1, this former paint waste removal area is hydraulically up-gradient of groundwater monitoring well OB-17 in which groundwater samples have exhibited a concentration of 1,4-dioxane above its New Jersey Interim Specific Groundwater Quality Criterion.
    • During December 12-15, 2016, Cornerstone collected a total of 43 samples (41 native samples and two blind duplicates) from a sampling grid within the former SR area.  1,4 dioxane was not detected in any of the 43 samples collected and no paint waste was identified in any of the borings.  Two samples of paint waste surficial fragments were collected from within OCDA and also analyzed for 1,4 dioxane.  The lab results indicate that no 1,4 dioxane was reported in either of the two paint waste samples.  Therefore, a localized source of 1,4 dioxane was not identified in OCDA 2017/09/1-20-2017-Cornerstone-Ltr-Report-Focused-Investigation-at-OCDA.pdf