Skip to content

Ringwood: Letter from Bob Spiegel to U.S. EPA

To Pat Seppi (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency):
I have just one question for you to forward to Mathy Stanislaus, the EPA Assistant Administrator (AA) from HQ and Judith Enck, the R2 Administrator (RA). Are they coming to just give us more platitudes and lip service or are any of the US EPA going to put their (big-boy or woman) pants on and give the community the truth and real answers for a change. As you know the EPA made a public commitment to fully clean up the Ringwood Mines Superfund Site in Ringwood New Jersey, the first site in US EPA history to have to be relisted due to massive failures at all levels of government, Ford Motor Company and Arcadis their contractors.
Now that Michael Sivak, EPA’s Risk Assessor took the position that this site poses no unacceptable risk to Human Health from Canon Mines, Peters Mine or the O’Connor Disposal Area, under what regulatory authority can EPA make Ford Motor Company do anything but cap these sites?
EPA has allowed Ford to run the show, first by dragging in the town of Ringwood and making them adversaries with their own residents. Then allowing the piecemeal cleanup by dragging out the cleanup work doing one Sludge Removal area at a time while allowing the investigation rolled along at a snails pace at a hot glue factory. Now it appears that the EPA agrees with Ford’s groundwater assessment that somehow was able to use a flawed and little understood process to show little risk.
EPA needs to tell the community, their tribe leaders, supports and family members what is the path forward to a real cleanup and not just capping? Even if EPA wanted to clean the site Michael Sivaks mischaracterization risk assessment corners EPA and leaves no room for any other regulatory frame work for a real cleanup even if EPA is genuine in their platitudes.
I and many others including those in the scientific and medical community do not believe that this site and the community that live, eats, plays and hunts here will ever be safe unless EPA does their job and fully clean the site. Looking at the bodies that continue to pile up no reasonable person could possibly conclude that there is any additional acceptable risk this community can be exposed to.

The amount of lead and toxic chemicals that the community has already been exposed means their bodies are full of Fords poisons and allows for no additional risk no matter how small. EPA’s risk assessment models allows Ford to kill one in ten thousand people and that’s acceptable to EPA. The truth is that the body count in Ringwood from Ford is already pretty high. They already ready their murder quota and deaths from chemical assaults.

Just ask Kelly DeGroat, a longtime resident, her son Collin, died of a rare bone cancer in 2001. He was 10. No one can or will explain why the families in this hardworking communities must keep bury their dead and have to live with the horror of dying children like Colin.

I bet Ford’s CEO, Andy Hobbs has no such worries. Except maybe making sure his tan lines are even for his high level meetings with EPA.
Michael Sivak did this entire community a disservice by leading them to believe that if they provided their cultural hunting and eating habits that the information would be included in the health assessment. It was an insult to Colin’s memory for EPA to come out publicly and say there is no risk at the site. Tell Colin’s parents and all the other sick people in this community. Tell all the women of child bearing age who have had miscarriage after miscarriages they are safe and the death ratio in Ringwood is normal.
The EPA needs to stop kicking this toxic can down the road and be the adult in the room and tell the truth. Once the EPA dragged this community through the Remedy Review Board Process for almost 2 years in 2011 and 2012. The mysteriously cancelling this important milestone after everyone participated fully and sent comments, letters and phone calls and e-mail to support a full and comprehensive cleanup only to have the process hijacked by Any Hobbs, Fords front man. Even Stevie Wonder can see this process has been hijacked by Ford and their lobbyist.
I am coming to this last meeting for one reason and one reason only. I made a commitment to Vivian, Francine, Chief Mann and the rest of my Ringwood family to attend. These are my brothers and sisters and while many in this community are connected by blood but the connection including the EWA are connected by an even stronger bond.
We are all members of a larger human family and all living things sink or swim we are all connected down to the most basic level we are all one family and all one people. Andy Hobbs and Mathy Stanislaus will someday realize what the world is learning. How we treat all living things reflects fundamental truth about the survival of our species. In fact we are all one race and one people. The barriers we set up between us are artificial and manufactured by those seeking to continue the status quo.
Pass this along to all EPA Upper Management. Please do not insult the communities intelligence at the upcoming meet and ask us to wait 3, 6, 12 months more while EPA ponders what to do. You know what the community wants and you have collected oral comments, letters and e-mails for the remedy review board. We have been down this road to many times to count. Please stop wasting our time and just tell the community and public the truth. That you have set Ford up so they can cap and walk away from this site. All we are asking for is just be honest. Ford is still calling the shots and that clearly has never stopped.

This hard working community has been lied to by so many people for so long they deserve a straight answer. First by Ford and EPA then the lawyers, then the film crew, then EPA repeat as necessary….
These families and the community deserve better then this charade and no one should have to endure what the families of Upper Ringwood have for the last 60 years. There are still funerals weekly and they have seen more death, pain and tragedy that a community or Native Americans culture should ever have to and yet the endure their spirit bent but not broken their wills tested but stronger than ever.
Continuing to promote a lie or misleading them further is adding insult to their injuries. This community has become experts at many things one of which is disseminating the truth from lies. Please tell EPA to come and tell the truth, edit out all the platitudes and misdirection, false praise or misleading promises.
The meeting needs to have only two agenda items answer just two simple questions:
1. Is EPA coming out with a plan in the next 30 days to actually clean the chemical toxic waste slop pits known as Peters Mine, O’Connor Disposal Area and Canon Mine or take the easy way out and give vague answers that allow them walk out without a firm commitment.
2. If EPA really cares about this community they will reevaluate there human health and risk assessment. The EPA can and should factor in that this small community consumes and has consumed game and fauna for 40 years that has elevated levels of lead and other contaminants as well as played on and eaten toxic lead sludge. Since the deer and other game animals have used such a small subset of samples and their was a blender malfunction with the squirrels. EPA needs to revisit the risk assessment and use a new approach:
Here several Documents prepared by EPA and other agencies that provide guidance on a alternative approach to evaluating risk and would provide a more realistic assessment of the human health risk at the Ringwood Mines Superfund Site.
Please forward these links to Upper management and President Barry Obama and ask them to read their own research and study group findings. EPA had had plenty of feed back and focused study groups on this issue of Native Americans, toxic biota and new ways of assessing risk.
To The Community and Ringwood CAG Members and Ramapough/Lenaape Tribe members.
I want to let everyone know the power still rest with the community and stakeholder speaking as one voice. Everyone in the community who wants to hold Ford accountable for the cleanup as well as for the death and misery must step forward and let their voices be heard. The voices of all those who are the voiceless or silenced by death, fear and apathy need to be drowned out by those who will settle for nothing but truth and justice for this community and communities around the world who share the same industrial holocaust and chemical assault
I still have hope the USEPA will remember that they work for the people of the United States not Andy Hobbs or Ford. They have a sacred obligation to make right the mistakes that led to the deaths of all the children, families and elders in this ancestral community.
The whole world will be watching next week!
Warmest Regards,
Bob Spiegel, EWA Executive Director
Neutral CAG Facilitator
at EPA TAG Advisor
Robert Spiegel
Executive Director
Edison Wetlands Association
Phone: (732) 321-1300
Fax: (732) 372-7866

Related News