Timeline

  • 1700s:

    Magnetite mines operated on the property as early as the 1700s.

    Early 1900s:

    Mining operations ended.

    Circa 1942:

    The U.S. Government purchased the Upper Ringwood Areas (approximately 870 acres) and invested heavily in the mines to prepare them for potential use in World War II.

    1942 – 1945:

    Under a lease agreement with the U.S. Government, Alan Wood Steel Company conducted a number of activities in the reconstruction of a number of mine-related structures, excavation and disposal of waste rock, production and processing of some ore, dewatering of the mines, and reopening, enlarging and extending the original mine levels.

    1947 – 1948:

    The mines were briefly sold to a private interest, but the property reverted back to the U.S. Government one year later after the private party filed for bankruptcy.

    1958: 

    U.S. Government sold the property to Pittsburgh Pacific Company.

    1965 – 1971:

    U.S. Government sold the property to Ringwood Realty, a former subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, in 1965. During this period, Ford Motor Company wastes, including car parts and paint sludges, were disposed of by a Ringwood Realty contractor, O’Connor, on the ground surface and in abandoned mine pits. Two abandoned mines, Peter’s Mine and Cannon Mine, had been used for the disposal of garbage and other wastes over the years. Peter’s Mine also contains paint sludges, solvents and scrap metal. Several drums have been observed in Cannon Mine.

    1970:  Ringwood Realty donated 290 acres in the southern portion of the site to the Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority.  In August of 1970, Former Mayor John Kulik sent a letter to Ford Motor Company stating 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.”

    1971: 

    Ringwood Realty sold all but 145 acres of the site.

    1972: 

    Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority began operating a permitted municipal disposal area.

    1973: 

    Ringwood Realty no longer owned any portion of the site by December, 1973.

    1976: 

    The landfill was closed by the State of New Jersey.

    1983: 

    EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in September 1983, and directed Ford Motor Company to conduct cleanup activities at the mine sites. 

    1984 – 1988:

    EPA and Ford conducted and completed investigations to identify potential hazards, assess risks to human health and the environment, and develop remedial options.

    1987 – 1998:

    11,900 tons of solidified paint waste was removed from four areas of the property and disposed of off-site.

    1994:  EPA deleted the site from the National Priorities List.

    1994 – 2001: EPA directed Ford to complete three more clean-ups to the site.

    2004: 

    Discovery of additional paint sludge at the site, prompting additional drum removal activities, which were conducted from December 2004 through 2014. U.S.EPA groundwater sampling also indicated the sporadic presence of several contaminants including lead, arsenic and benzene at levels above drinking water standards.

    2005-2016: 50,318 additional tons of paint sludge waste and impacted soil were removed from the property and disposed of offsite.

    2005: 

    New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) started investigating residential properties at the site. 

    2006: 

    The discovery of additional contamination at the site prompted EPA to restore the site to the NPL. Renewed cleanup activities included removal of additional landfilled paint sludge and contaminated soil from the site.

    2006: 

    The Toxic Tort Lawsuit was filed by local residents against Ford, the Borough of Ringwood and involved parties. 

    2006: 

    Groundwater sampling events were performed again, and has continued every year since. This included the testing of all viable sample wells at the site.  Results of these sampling events have indicated the sporadic presence of several contaminants including lead, arsenic and benzene at levels above drinking water standards.

    2009: 

    In August 2009, the Toxic Tort Litigation was settled.

    2011: 

    Residential sampling identified elevated levels of lead in soil on some of the residential properties from various sources- subsequently EPA initiated the removal of lead-contaminated soil from 23 residences at the site.

    May 2012:  EPA submitted the proposed remedies for PMP, CMP and OCDA (collectively referred to as OU2) to the EPA National Remedy Review Board while the Borough, Ford, the CAG and members of the public submitted “white papers” and/or comments advising of their respective views on the remedial alternatives for OU2. 

    May 2013:  EPA presented a proposed remedial plan for the site to the National Remedy Review Board which put forth a costly, full excavation remedy for the O’Connor site and capping remedies for Peter’s and Cannon Mines.

    September 2013:  The Borough of Ringwood and the Ford Motor Company proposed to cap the O’Connor Disposal site and build a new municipal recycling center on the OCDA property.

    October 2013:

    EPA issued its “Proposed Remedial Action Plan for OU2” (PRAP) which indicated EPA’s preferred remedies for each PMP, CMP and OCDA (capping for PMP and CMP, full excavation for OCDA). Public comment period ensued (the Borough, Ford, CAG and members of the public submitted formal comments on the PRAP to EPA for consideration). The deadline for comments was extended twice by EPA, and remained open for a total of four months.

    November 2013: 

    EPA conducted a public hearing that lasted more than five hours during which 41 people made public comments including between 8-15 Ringwood residents.

    February 2014: 

    Four months after public comment was collected and accepted, EPA closed the public comment period.

    2014: 

    EPA completed the removal of lead-contaminated soil from 23 residences at the site.

    March 2014:

    EPA issued a Responsiveness Summary which aimed to address collectively the comments (both written and verbal) they received at end of PRAP public comment period.

    June 2014: 

    EPA issued a Record of Decision for OU2 in June 2014 which selected capping remedies for PMP and CMP and full excavation for OCDA but allowed for the Contingency Remedy (consolidation and capping of OCDA with a new recycling center) if the Borough met three conditions by Dec. 2014.

    December 2014:

    The Borough made a submission demonstrating compliance with the three conditions in the ROD for the Contingency Remedy in December 2014.

    April 2015: 

    EPA accepted and approved the Borough’s submission and issued the Explanation of Significant Differences document in April 2015, in which EPA selected the Contingency Remedy for OCDA. In effect, the action “de-selected” the EPA’s original preferred remedial alternative of full excavation set forth in the initial ROD.

    August 2015:

    During the 2015 groundwater sampling event, the Borough first identified 1,4 Dioxane in ground water at the site.  Results of surface water sampling continue to indicate that surface water does not contain elevated levels of contaminants, and that 1,4 Dioxane related to the site is not impacting the Wanaque Reservoir.

    2016:

    Results of sampling in August appear consistent with the results of previous sampling of groundwater – a similar distribution of benzene and 1,4 dioxane at the site. There is no evidence that the groundwater is impacting the Wanaque Reservoir. In the Peter’s Mine area, an isolated sample showed an unusually elevated level of 1,4‐dioxane. But, that sample was retested and determined to be an anomaly.

    July 2016:

    Citizens group presents ballot question for Election Day November 8, 2016. 

    August 2016: 

    Borough sues to invalidate ballot question.

    September 2016: Judge Caposela issues decision on Citizen’s Petition. In the court proceedings, Judge Caposela discusses the substantial cost to the Borough of Ringwood and its taxpayers if the capping remedy does not move forward.

    Judge Caposela invalidates the citizen’s ballot question (see page 39 of decision), “So the Court take that into consideration and denies the petitioner’s application but, also the question is not intelligible . . . So, for all of those reasons, I’m going to deny the petition and I can’t – – I can’t rewrite the question.” 

     2017:  In May of 2017, North Jersey District Water Supply Commission provided a report regarding the detection of 1,4 dioxane in groundwater in tests that were taken about 1 mile from the Wanaque Reservoir and more than 7.5 miles from the Reservoir’s intake.  The report indicated that the chemical has not been detected in the reservoir and the probability of the chemical reaching the reservoir’s treatment plant is low. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated 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.