• TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP AT PETER'S MINE

    TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP AT PETER'S MINE

    Toxic waste is gathered and treated at the Peter's Mine landfill in Ringwood, NJ.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; POLLUTED STREAM

    TOXIC LEGACY; POLLUTED STREAM

    Old automobile tires and other waste pollute a stream in Upper Ringwood. The water from this stream filers into the Wanaque Reservoir -a major water supply for North Jersey.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; LOST IN A TOXIC ENVIRONMENT

    TOXIC LEGACY; LOST IN A TOXIC ENVIRONMENT

    At left, Paul Van Dunk, Sr. with a photo of his daughter Pauline who died of cancer. At right, his next door neighbor and cousin Kelly Degroat, clutches a photo of her son Collin, who also died of cancer. The tree behind her is the 'Collin Tree,' planted in his memory. Many in the community believe that the high cancel rate in the community is related to the toxic dumping in the community.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; MICKEY VANDUNK

    TOXIC LEGACY; MICKEY VANDUNK

    Mickey VanDunk's body has been ravaged by a chronic and debilitating skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa. He believes his autoimmune condition is related to exposure to the toxic environment he grew up in in Ringwood.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; ANGER AND FRUSTRATION

    TOXIC LEGACY; ANGER AND FRUSTRATION

    Sharon Kubiak, a health program specialist for the state of New Jersey, speaks with a distrustful and angry group of Upper Ringwood residents. The state ordered the free health examinations in a mobile health center trailer, but the residents were upset that the exams do not include tests for exposure to lead and other toxins.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; HARDENED LEAD PAINT SLUDGE

    TOXIC LEGACY; HARDENED LEAD PAINT SLUDGE

    A government offical walks over a hardened slab of lead paint sludge, dumped in a watershed area in Upper Ringwood decades ago when the area was used as dumping ground.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; AERIAL VIEW OF UPPER RINGWOOD & WATERSHED

    TOXIC LEGACY; AERIAL VIEW OF UPPER RINGWOOD & WATERSHED

    Aerial photo of the watershed area in Upper Ringwood, where the Ford Motor Company dumped toxic lead paint decades ago. The Wanaque Reservoir, seen in the distance, is where the streams in Upper Ringwood filter into, and provide drinking water for much of North Jersey.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; POLLUTED WATER

    TOXIC LEGACY; POLLUTED WATER

    Much of the water in Upper Ringwood contains an oily looking material floating on the surface. Experts believe this may be natural forming, but many locals say there are pollutants in the water causing this phenomena.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; FROG IN POLLUTED WATER

    TOXIC LEGACY; FROG IN POLLUTED WATER

    A frog pokes through orange-colored water in the iron-rich region which causes the water to take on an orange glow. Experts say this may be natural ly forming, yet many believe there are too many pollutants n the water cause the discoloration.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; SOIL TESTING

    TOXIC LEGACY; SOIL TESTING

    Private consultant Tommy Adams takes a sample of dirt near a chunk of lead paint sludge bulging from the Milligan family's driveway in Upper Ringwood. The soil was later tested and found to contain high levels of toxic materials including lead and arsenic. The State later had the driveway remediated.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; LEAD PAINT FOUND BURIED IN DRIVEWAY

    TOXIC LEGACY; LEAD PAINT FOUND BURIED IN DRIVEWAY

    Private consultant Tommy Adams holds up a sample hardened lead paint sludge that was bulging from the Milligan family's driveway in Upper Ringwood. The soil was later tested and found to contain high levels of toxic materials including lead, benzine, and arsenic -all materials found in lead paint used by the Ford factory.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; FAMILY WITH SLUDGE IN YARD

    TOXIC LEGACY; FAMILY WITH SLUDGE IN YARD

    Angela Van Dunk with her two young children is concerned about the health risks in her yard -where her young children play. There is a huge chunk of paint sludge is bulging from the dirt in the driveway which wqas later found to contain high levels of lead, arsenic, and benzine.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; LOOKING OUTSIDE

    TOXIC LEGACY; LOOKING OUTSIDE

    DeKwan VanDunk, 4, looks out the van window onto the yard where he can no longer play, after the soil was tested and found to contain dangerous toxic material.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; LAWYERS MEETING WITH EPA

    TOXIC LEGACY; LAWYERS MEETING WITH EPA

    Kevin Madonna and other attorneys for the Ramapoughs in Upper Ringwood listen to the EPA's Joe Gowers as he presents a clean-up plan for Upper Ringwood, a community polluted with toxic material.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; D.E.P. COMMISSIONER VISITS

    TOXIC LEGACY; D.E.P. COMMISSIONER VISITS

    Ramapough leader Wayne Mann, center, listens to DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell, left, and Robert Spiegel of the Edison Wetlands Commission, while they were touring the dumping sites in Ringwood.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; D.E.P. COMMISSIONER TOURS DUMPING AREA

    TOXIC LEGACY; D.E.P. COMMISSIONER TOURS DUMPING AREA

    New NJ D.E.P. Commissioner Lisa Jackson is led on a tour of the Upper Ringwood cleanup. The Ramapough community leaders and environmental watchdogs were closely monitoring the cleanup, as this site was once a Super-Fund site that the federal government classified as clean-up. Now the residents are calling for the site to be 're-listed," and cleaned up properly. Jackson later went on to become President Obama's E.P.A. Chief, and championed the Ramapoughs cause.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP BEGINS

    TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP BEGINS

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversee's the clean-up in Upper Ringwood. David Hermartin of Arcadis, the company performing the cleanup, monitors the air for dust and gas every three minutes from various locations around the cleanup work.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; ROCKS ARE SANITIZED

    TOXIC LEGACY; ROCKS ARE SANITIZED

    Boulders that came in contact with contaminated material are cleaned, marked, and removed from Upper Ringwood. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is overseeing the clean-up by Arcadis, the company performing the cleanup for Ford.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP OF HAZARDOUS MATERIAL

    TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP OF HAZARDOUS MATERIAL

    Contaminated material in the Peter's Mine area is sprayed and treated to contain contaminants before removal.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE REMOVAL FROM HOMES

    TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE REMOVAL FROM HOMES

    In November 2015, environmental technicians remove decades-old lead paint sludge embedded in the front yard of Bob Degroat's house in Upper Ringwood. The sludge and soil were removed under supervision of the NJ DEP. The sludge was dumped there decades ago before the DeGroats moved there.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE REMOVAL FROM DRIVEWAY

    TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE REMOVAL FROM DRIVEWAY

    Environmental technicians remove decades old lead paint sludge embeded in a front yard and driveway in Upper Ringwood. The sludge and soil were removed under supervision of the NJ DEP. The sludge was dumped there decades ago.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE REMOVAL FROM DRIVEWAY

    TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE REMOVAL FROM DRIVEWAY

    Environmental technicians watch as decades old lead paint sludge is removed from a private yard in Upper Ringwood. The sludge and soil were removed under supervision of the NJ DEP. The sludge was dumped there decades ago.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE MATERIAL IS TESTED

    TOXIC LEGACY; SLUDGE MATERIAL IS TESTED

    A piece of excavated material is examined by Ken Petrone of the DEP, Dave Berzins of the DEP, and Rich Chapin of Chapin Consulting, representing the residents in Upper Ringwood.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; TRUCKS REMOVE TOXIC MATERIAL DISRUPTING COMMUNITY

    TOXIC LEGACY; TRUCKS REMOVE TOXIC MATERIAL DISRUPTING COMMUNITY

    Ramapough community member Daniel Mann takes photos of a truck carrying material from the EPA cleanup site. Many of the residents are upset that the constant passing of heavy trucks has disrupted the community where children play and is further spreading contaminated materials.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; TRUCKS REMOVE TOXIC MATERIAL DISRUPTING COMMUNITY

    TOXIC LEGACY; TRUCKS REMOVE TOXIC MATERIAL DISRUPTING COMMUNITY

    Brett Milligan right, watches a truck passes by, as children wait for the morning school bus. Many of the residents are upset that the constant passing of heavy trucks has disrupted the community and created an unsafe environment.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; GIANT HOLE IN PRIVATE YARD

    TOXIC LEGACY; GIANT HOLE IN PRIVATE YARD

    In July 2015, a huge sinkhole suddenly erupted on Roger Degroat 's property. The community was built around an old iron mining operation, with miles of old abandoned tunnels underground. Many believe this sink hole might have been caused by the EPA cleanup, where heavy earth moving trucks have been in operation removing large amounts of contaminated soil, a few hundered yards away.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP CAUSES DISRUPTION IN COMMUNITY

    TOXIC LEGACY; CLEAN-UP CAUSES DISRUPTION IN COMMUNITY

    Roger Degroat waits for a school bus with his daughter Deena and his wife in Upper Ringwood. Many of the residents are upset that the constant passing of heavy trucks has disrupted the community and created an unsafe environment for children.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; REMOVAL OF TOXIC MATERIAL DISRUPTING COMMUNITY

    TOXIC LEGACY; REMOVAL OF TOXIC MATERIAL DISRUPTING COMMUNITY

    Clara Milligan is upset to learn that her yard contains toxic material that needs to be removed.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; HEALTH SCREENINGS FOR RAMAPOUGHS

    TOXIC LEGACY; HEALTH SCREENINGS FOR RAMAPOUGHS

    Paul Van Dunk, Sr. takes his grandchildren for free health screenings, while h remains in the van distrustful of what the exams will be used for. The state ordered the free health examinations, and were conducted by the North Hudson Community Action Corp. in a mobile health center trailer seen in window reflection on right.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; RAMAPOUGHS FILE LAWSUIT

    TOXIC LEGACY; RAMAPOUGHS FILE LAWSUIT

    In January 2006, Jock Smith, an attorney with the Johnnie Cochran Firm representing the Ramapoughs, annouces that they are filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Ford and other agencies, at press conference in Upper Ringwood..

  • TOXIC LEGACY; RAMAPOUGHS FILE LAWSUIT

    TOXIC LEGACY; RAMAPOUGHS FILE LAWSUIT

    Members of the Rampough community, including Roger DeGroat at center, listen to their lawyers announce a lawsuit they are filing against Ford and other agencies, at press conference in Upper Ringwood..

  • TOXIC LEGACY; REMEMBERING COLLIN

    TOXIC LEGACY; REMEMBERING COLLIN

    Kelly DeGroat releases birthday balloons in her backyard, along with family and friends, in memory of her son Collin who died of cancer in 2001.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; Rural lifestyle ruined

    TOXIC LEGACY; Rural lifestyle ruined

    Clinton VanDunk, Jr. 6, shoots the bow and arrow with his sister Jalisa, in the backyard on VanDunk Lane. Their family is considering leaving their country behind a lifestyle due to the dangers of the hidden sink holes and contmaination.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; Living off the land

    TOXIC LEGACY; Living off the land

    Joelene VanDunk, walks with her son Clinton, Jr. 6 at home on VanDunk Lane. The family is seriously considering leaving their homes in Upper Ringwood, leaving a country behind the rural lifestyle they love due to the dangers of the hidden sink holes and contaminated soil. Their kids enjoy the outdoors, including being able to shoot a bow & arrow, hunt, and ride ATV's and bicycles in their backyards and nearby woods.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; Lawsuit announced

    TOXIC LEGACY; Lawsuit announced

    ormer Ramapough Chief Walter Van Dunk watches todays press conference, seen in his glasses. Today, attorneys for the Ramapoughs announced a lawsuit filed against Ford.

  • TOXIC LEGACY; Settlement reached

    TOXIC LEGACY; Settlement reached

    Vivian Milligan with her nieces Amber Fudal and Cheyenne DiCaprio after they received their checks as part of a settlement in the lawsuit filed against Ford by the Ramapough Indians in Ringwood. They did not disclose the amount they received, but said that it was small and much less than they expected

  • TOXIC LEGACY; Ford's lasting legacy

    TOXIC LEGACY; Ford's lasting legacy

    The remnants of an old Ford automobile lies among the weeds in a wooded area next to where the former Ford Auto plant once stood.

Toxic Legacy

In the 1960's, the Ford Motor Company churned out six millions cars and trucks at a sprawling assembly plant in Mahwah, NJ. But that remarkable production came at a cost. Before the plant closed in 1980, it generated an ocean of pollution that was dumped mainly in the mountain community of Upper Ringwood, NJ -home to the Ramapough Mountain Indians, and threatens the region’s most important watershed. From 2005-2010 I documented the pollution, the investigation of multiple failed cleanups by the E.P.A. and other government agencies, and the impact it had on the Ramapough community, which had a very close connection to the land there and sued Ford and other government agencies.