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The 500-acre Ringwood Mines/Landfill site is located in a historic iron mining district in the borough of Ringwood in Passaic County, New Jersey. Site features include abandoned mine shafts and pits, inactive landfills and open waste dumps. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the 500-acre area was used for the disposal of paint sludge and other wastes generated at the Ford Motor Company's Mahwah facility. Following immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, site investigations and long-term cleanup activities are ongoing.

Magnetite mines operated on the site property as early as the 1700s. Wastes have been disposed of at the site since the 1960s. The site is about a half-mile mile wide and 1.5 miles long. It consists of rugged forested areas, open areas overgrown with vegetation, abandoned mine shafts and surface pits, an inactive landfill, an industrial refuse disposal area, small surficial dumps, a municipal recycling center, the Ringwood Borough garage, and about 50 private homes. Two abandoned mines, Peter's Mine and Cannon Mine, have been used for the disposal of garbage and other wastes over the years. Peter's Mine
also contains paint sludges, solvents and scrap metal. Several drums have been observed in Cannon Mine.

Mining ended at the site in the early 1900s. From then until the late 1930s, the history of the site is unclear. The U.S. Government purchased the site property prior to 1940. It was later sold to a succession of owners. From 1965 until 1974, Ringwood Realty, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, owned the property. During this period, Ford Motor Company wastes, including car parts and paint sludges, were disposed of on the ground surface and in abandoned mine pits. In 1970, Ringwood Realty donated 290 acres in the southern portion of the site to the Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority, which began operating a permitted municipal disposal area in 1972. The landfill was closed by the State of New Jersey in 1976.

Following immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, and site investigations, EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in September 1983.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Immediate Actions: From 1987 to 1988, 7,000 cubic yards of paint sludge and associated soils were removed from four on-site areas and disposed of off site. In early 1990, 60 drums containing wastes were discovered. The drums were removed and disposed of off site. Additional solidified paint sludge (about five cubic yards) discovered in April 1995 was disposed of off site. In 1997, 50 cubic yards of paint sludge was discovered at the site. This paint sludge was removed in December 1997 and January 1998. The excavated paint sludge was containerized and transported for disposal at an appropriate off-site facility. In April 2004, significant amounts of paint sludge were determined to be present at the site. This has prompted additional paint sludge and drum removal activities, which were conducted from December 2004 through 2014. Other removal activities in 2010 removed soil contamination in the paint sludge disposal areas that may be related to paint sludge.

Beginning in October 2005, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) started investigating residential properties at the site. In 2011, residential sampling identified elevated levels of lead in soil on some of the residential properties. From 2011 through 2014, EPA removed lead-contaminated soil from 23 residences at the site.

Long-term Cleanup: Paint sludge and other industrial waste at the site have been addressed through a series of removal actions, as described above. Long-term groundwater and surface water monitoring efforts began in 1989 and are ongoing. Surface water at the site has been sampled several times in the 1990s and in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016. Results continue to indicate that contamination at the site has not impacted the Wanaque Reservoir. Groundwater sampling has shown limited and sporadically elevated levels of some contaminants, including benzene, arsenic and lead. 1,4-dioxane has also been detected in groundwater at the site.  Under EPA oversight, a feasibility study is currently being prepared which will evaluate alternatives for addressing groundwater contamination at the Ringwood Mines/Landfil site.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site is being addressed in two stages: immediate actions and a long-term remedial phase focused on cleanup of the entire site.

The potential for exposure to hazardous materials from the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Site has been partially addressed by removing  paint sludge and associated soils, and 113 drums of waste materials from non-residential areas and disposing of this material off site, as well as the removal of impacted soil from residential properties.

Since the discovery of additional paint sludge at the site in 2004, groundwater sampling events were performed in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016  which included the sampling of all viable wells at the Site. Results of these sampling events indicate the sporatic presence of several contaminants including lead, arsenic and benzene at levels above drinking water standards. During the 2015 sampling event, 1,4-dioxane was first identified in groundwater at the site.  Results of surface water sampling continue to indicate that surface water does not contain elevated levels of contaminants, and that 1,4-dioxane related to the site is not impacting the Wanaque Reservoir. Groundwater at the site is not being used as a drinking water source.

Remaining landfill areas have been fenced to mitigate the potential for exposure to site-related contaminants while cleanup actions for these areas are being designed..

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