Sunday, February 28, 2016

Superfund Site in Ringwood "Holes and Caves"

My wife, Patricia, follows the news much more closely than I do. She majored in journalism at Boston University, so it's no surprise she has a much keener mind about current affairs than I do. Nearly five years ago, prompted by reading Manny Luftglass's Gone Fishin' in New Jersey late in 2010, I took our son, Matt, to Shepherd Lake near Ringwood, New Jersey, off Sloatsburg Road near the New York state border, in Ringwood State Park. Patricia warned me of a Superfund site nearby and that we shouldn't bring any fish home.

Back a year or two before we got married, in the mid-90's, we visited Ringwood Manor and also hiked a couple of trails in the area. She's the quiet sort who thinks privately more than she says. We never discussed the Superfund site until the possibility, or so it seemed, of a foul meal involved us.

One of the things we had explored in the area, old iron works have a nearly ubiquitous presence in North Jersey. During the 18th and/or 19th centuries, much of the land forested now got clear-cut to fuel iron furnaces, and many mines now remain scattered among the mountains, abandoned shafts that served real purpose as the American Industrial Revolution gained power.

And then came the 20th century, which Superfunds are all about. Cleaning up after the party. Two North Jersey mines near Ringwood--Peter's Mine and Cannon Mine--got stuffed with chemical waste containing 1,4 dioxane, suspected of causing cancer in people. Only now it's coming out in the news that dioxane is in the groundwater up there at specific testing sites (we live in Bedminster, central Jersey) 50 to 95 times the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency's safe standard.

What a strange fate for innocent mine shafts. And according to the article I read, residents in the toxic area have reported serious illnesses and early deaths.

Here's the link to an article about the mess: