Ford Motor Company is being sued by New Jersey state officials for contaminating hundreds of acres of land, with a large population of Ramapough Lenape people, that the company used for the waste disposal for its largest assembly plant that was built in 1955.
The lawsuit accuses the automobile company of contaminating the water, soil, groundwater, vegetation, and the air in the area in Ringwood, New Jersey, as well as selling part of the land to the state without disclosing to them the damage that they had caused there.
The lawsuit is pursuing action on eight counts, including negligence and trespassing.
According to the lawsuit, in 1965, Ford purchased 400 acres of Ringwood Mines for the purpose of disposing of its waste from the automobile plant built a decade ago.
The Ringwood Mines area has nearly 50 residential units and about 200 residents.
Starting 1967, for seven years the company used the space to throw away “tons of toxic paint sludge and drummed waste and other non-liquid hazardous waste”.
Meanwhile, around 1970, the company sold off parts of the land to numerous entities including a non-profit and other government institutions, without disclosing the full extent of the damage they had caused on the land.
“Bottom line is that Ford demonstrated little to no regard for the environment,” said the acting attorney general, Matt Platkin, when announcing the lawsuit on Thursday.
“They turned a blind eye to the risks that their actions have imposed on the lives of 200 residents who live here, which includes Native Americans who are historically and disproportionately exposed to environmental harms,” he said, according to a video of the announcement shared on Facebook.
Vincent Mann, chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation’s Turtle Clan, and New Jersey’s commissioner of environmental protection, Shawn M LaTourette, were also present at the announcement.
“Today is one of those days that we’ll remember when the state of New Jersey and [attorney general] understands the impact of our community, they understand the loss of not just our families but the loss of our lands,” Mann said.
LaTourette, who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told the Guardian that at this time there isn’t an estimate for how much is being demanded in compensation.
“The full scope of damages and potential compensation will be better characterized in the discovery phase of the lawsuit,” he said.
The lawsuit is currently demanding compensation for damages done to natural resources, and punitive damages or penalties for its “wanton and willful disregard” of the local residents.
LaTourette added that he hopes this will be an answer to a decades-long struggle the local community has been put through, especially the Ramapough Lenape population.
“My hope is that we restore the wetlands, waters, lands and cultural resources that have been degraded for decades, including through restoration projects that benefit the people who rely upon these resources and have been deprived of their benefits, including the people of the Ramapough Lenape Nation,” he said.
The Guardian has reached out to Ford for comments.
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( Information from theguardian.com was used in this report. To Read More, click here )