[Marxism] What Ford did to the Ramapough Mountain Indians

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jul 18 14:21:27 MDT 2011

(Some idiot just wrote a defense of Ford under my review of “Mann 
V. Ford” because it was “legal” to dump toxic waste in the 1960s 
using Mafia haulers. This article that appeared in the Bergen 
Record is an antidote to such garbage.)

The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
October 2, 2005 Sunday

Ford, the feds, the mob: Making a wasteland


A slab of bright blue lies beside a mountain stream above the 
Wanaque Reservoir. It’s a sporty color, maybe the “Diamond Blue” 
that Ford sprayed on Galaxies in the late 1960s. It hardened like 
lava where it was dumped more than a generation ago.

When running high, the stream rinses over the slab and down the 
mountain, through marshes and past beaver dams, toward the reservoir.

It’s everywhere, this paint.

Chunks of it jut from the driveway of a house in Ringwood where a 
child got lead poisoning. It is so toxic he and his mom have moved 

Piles of it, weathered and gray and wrinkled like an elephant’s 
skin, cling to a hillside. Nearby is the home of a boy who died of 
a rare tumor.

On the other side of the hill a spring-fed stream once ran clear 
and fresh. For generations, it quenched the thirst of the 
mountain’s residents, the Ramapoughs. Now the water is bright 
orange and laced with cancer-causing benzene.

Just upstream from Mahwah, a ridge of waste paint longer than a 
football field slowly leaches arsenic, lead and other heavy metals 
into the Ramapo River.

It is in countless other places – in landfills, on farms, along 
hiking trails in the woodlands that sweep across the northern edge 
of New Jersey and form the region’s important watersheds.

The paint sludge is from the Ford Motor Co.’s factory in Mahwah, 
once the largest auto assembly plant in the nation. Before closing 
in 1980, the behemoth plant spat out 6 million vehicles and an 
ocean of contaminants – including enough paint sludge to fill two 
of the three tubes of the Lincoln Tunnel.

Millions of gallons of paint sludge was dumped in the remote 
section of Ringwood that is home to the Ramapoughs. Their children 
played in it. The streams washed over it. Early this summer, state 
officials announced some cancer rates there are unusually high. 
The Ramapoughs blame the sludge.

For the past eight months, The Record has been investigating 
Ford’s toxic legacy. A team of journalists went house to house 
documenting health complaints among the Ramapoughs. They hiked 
through the mountains and found paint sludge that had been missed 
by four government-supervised cleanups in Ringwood. They found 
sludge near homes, in parks and in the watershed. Not far from the 
site of Ford’s Mahwah plant, they discovered sludge that had been 
tossed off the side of the road, even dumped near wells for public 
water supplies.

Tests commissioned by the newspaper found lead, arsenic and 
xylenes in the sludge – some at 100 times the levels the 
government considers safe. The tests indicate the contamination is 

The Record found that Ford repeatedly dumped in poor communities 
and failed to clean up its mess. Documents reveal that Ford 
executives knew as early as 34 years ago that its waste had 
contaminated a stream that feeds the Wanaque Reservoir. They show 
that the company tried to evade responsibility by presenting 
tainted land as a “gift” to the state.

Organized crime played a key role in a vast assault on the 
environment. An analysis of public records and interviews with 
truckers who hauled Ford’s waste shows mob-controlled contractors 
dumped anywhere they could get away with it. They bribed, 
threatened, even murdered to maintain control of Ford’s trash.

Millions of gallons of hazardous waste vanished in their hands. 
Today, officials say they simply don’t have the staff to search 
for it all.

Government at all levels shares the blame. For years, it allowed 
mobsters to turn New Jersey into a toxic dumping ground. Initial 
attempts at statewide environmental regulation in the late 1970s 
only made the situation worse.


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