New Jersey sues Ford over mining that tainted tribal land

Jun 16, 2022, 11:55 AM | Updated: 1:50 pm
Chief Vincent Mann of the Turtle Clan of the Ramapough Lenape Nation speaks at a press conference i...

Chief Vincent Mann of the Turtle Clan of the Ramapough Lenape Nation speaks at a press conference in Ringwood, N.J., on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at which New Jersey officials announced litigation against Ford Motor Company, alleging the company contaminated tribal land by dumping paint sludge and other pollutants into a former iron mine. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

RINGWOOD, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey officials sued Ford Motor Co. on Thursday, alleging that the automaker contaminated the ancestral homeland of a Native American tribe by dumping paint sludge and other pollutants into a former mine.

The action in state court seeks unspecified damages to restore the land, and to compensate the state and local communities for losses they sustained when natural resources were damaged.

The suit accuses Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford of dumping contaminants at the former Ringwood Mine site, a 500-acre site that encompasses the homelands of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, a tribe formally recognized by the state.

Tribe members attended Thursday’s news conference and spoke of years of illnesses and deaths they attribute to contamination of their land.

“Can you promise my community a future?” tribe member Angel Stefancik asked New Jersey officials during the news conference. “I’ve lived on contaminated land my whole life. I want the kind of land where my ancestors grew up, where you can walk barefoot. I want my rabbits, my toads, fruit trees.

“I lost my grandmother to cancer,” she said. “I’m 22 and I have a long list of chronic conditions. It’s so hard living in that area, but this is my land. I was born there and I will die there.”

The state’s lawsuit alleges that Ford purchased Ringwood Mines in 1965 to use it as a landfill where it could dispose of hazardous waste generated by its auto assembly plant in Mahwah, which was one of the largest auto assembly plants in the U.S.

Between 1967 and 1974, the lawsuit asserts, Ford disposed thousands of tons of toxic paint sludge in the forests and on the grounds within the Ringwood Mines, as well as in its abandoned mineshafts and pits. Other pollutants were dumped there, as well, the state said.

Subsequently, Ford either donated or sold all of its contaminated Ringwood Mines properties while fully aware of — but without disclosing — that those properties were contaminated with hazardous and toxic wastes, according to the lawsuit.

The state did not disclose a specific amount in damages that it is seeking.

Ford said it had just received the lawsuit and could not comment in detail.

But it did issue a statement that said, “Ford takes its environmental responsibility seriously and has shown that through our actions to address issues in Upper Ringwood. We understand this has affected the community and have worked cooperatively with the Borough of Ringwood, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency while implementing the remediation plan stipulated by the EPA.”

Chief Vincent Mann, of the Turtle Clan of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, said his 200-member community has suffered for years from illness and death that they all believe is traceable to dumping at the mine site.

“People died of cancer, of rare diseases, birth defects because of this.” he said. “Every time someone calls late at night, you think, ‘Has someone else died?'”

State officials noted that Ford agreed to pay New Jersey $2.1 million to cover its past costs for cleanup and disposal of the paint sludge and other contaminants within Ringwood Mines as part of a state-federal settlement in 2019.

Thursday’s litigation involves compensation for the damage to and lost use of natural resources.

“Today we hold Ford accountable for natural resource damages, for knowingly polluting some of the state’s most precious environmental assets, then walking away without disclosing the toxic mess they had made or attempting to mitigate the harm,” said Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin.

___

Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Report: Lack of water access costs U.S. $8.6B each year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — At least 2 million Americans don’t have running water or a working toilet at home, a crisis that costs the U.S. economy $8.58 billion each year, according to a report released Tuesday by nonprofit DigDeep. These water access issues disproportionately impact Indigenous tribes, people of color, immigrants, low-income people and those […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Bruce Isackson departs federal court, April 3, 2019, in Boston after facing charges in a nat...
Associated Press

Ex-USC coach, couple avoid prison time in college scandal

BOSTON (AP) — A former assistant soccer coach at the University of Southern California who created fake athletic profiles for the children of wealthy parents in the sprawling college admissions bribery scheme avoided prison time Tuesday after helping convict others in the case. Laura Janke, who helped the mastermind of the scheme get students into […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Missouri lawmaker convicted in medical clinics fraud scheme

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Rep. Tricia Derges was convicted Tuesday of conducting fraud at medical clinics in southwest Missouri in part by falsely claiming that she was giving patients stem cell treatments. After a two-week federal trial, Derges was convicted of 22 counts including including wire fraud, illegal distribution of controlled substances and making […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Filmmaker to testify in Georgia Trump election investigation

ATLANTA (AP) — A British filmmaker who shot interviews with Donald Trump and his inner circle in the final months of the former president’s administration has been subpoenaed to testify in a Georgia investigation into whether Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in the state. Footage shot by Alex Holder includes […]
15 hours ago
FILE - In this photo provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, an endangered North A...
Associated Press

Whale entanglements drop, but remain major threat, feds say

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The number of whales entangled in fishing gear has declined recently, but the entanglements remain a critical threat to rare species, the federal government said in a report released Tuesday. There were 53 confirmed cases of large whales entangled in gear in the U.S. in 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]
15 hours ago
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies as the ...
Associated Press

The story behind AP report that caused Trump to throw lunch

NEW YORK (AP) — The news story that reportedly caused former President Donald Trump to throw his lunch against a White House wall came because of an interview that former Attorney General William Barr had arranged with The Associated Press. The story, which was published on Dec. 1, 2020, quoted Barr as saying that the […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
New Jersey sues Ford over mining that tainted tribal land