EPA says racism isn’t a factor in Ford Superfund saga

A strange environmental-justice saga is unfolding in New Jersey, pitting Ford Motor Co. against a community of Ramapough Indians and their allies. Decades ago, Ford dumped thousands of tons of toxic paint sludge at a former mining area. The dump was declared a Superfund site, reportedly cleaned up, and delisted. But neighbors said that sludge remained, and was causing illnesses and deaths. So last year, the site was put back on the Superfund list — the first-ever such relisting — and now the EPA inspector general’s office is studying the reasons for the decades-long fustercluck. At a community meeting this week, EPA reps said the agency’s oversight of the process undeniably sucked, but they found no evidence of racism. Residents scoffed: “Asking them if there was discrimination is like asking an ax murderer standing over a body if he killed anyone,” said community leader Wayne Mann. “With all due respect to you guys, you failed.” Both the clean-up and the investigation will continue.