Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dioxin Tests Start in Ringwood

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dioxin Tests Start in Ringwood

Article excerpt

The federal government began testing Upper Ringwood homes for cancer-causing dioxin, a castoff from fires that burned from industrial waste left by Ford Motor Co. decades ago.

At least half of the 50 homes in the 500-acre Superfund site are eligible for testing, but only five homeowners have agreed to proceed, said Joseph Gowers, project manager for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which will conduct the testing.

Ford Motor Co. dumped an ocean of contamination more than 40 years ago, waste it transported from its former Mahwah manufacturing plant. The contamination included paint sludge laced with arsenic, lead and volatile organic compounds, which in some cases burned for weeks near residential properties.

"The intention is to sample homes built before the late 1970s that were in existence when the fires occurred," Gowers said. One home was tested last week. Four homes are scheduled to undergo testing this week, Gowers said.

Dioxin was found in elevated levels in dust in some attics, lawyers for residents revealed in "Mann v. Ford," an HBO documentary that premiered in July and chronicled the community's fight against the auto giant. However, the data obtained by experts working on behalf of residents were never released to state or federal regulators for investigation, Gowers said.

Resident Vivian Milligan said she made another inquiry with attorneys regarding dioxin testing recently but got no answers.

"The documentary made it sound really serious, like it was a very big hazard," Milligan said Tuesday. "We're up in the air and we'd really like to know what's going on,'' she said.

Attorneys representing residents could not be reached for comment. However, when the testing issue was raised last summer, attorney Kevin Madonna said dioxin was found in fewer than one in four attics and wasn't a health threat. …

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