Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why Do Superfund Environmental Cleanups Take Decades?

Tuesday 10/4/11 "Why is Environmental Cleanup So Slow?” Panel Discussion at Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ

Friends Hall (SC219) in Student Center, 6:30-9 p.m. 

The regional head of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, Walter Mugdan, will speak Tuesday on a panel with Ramapo College professors. Other panelists are Adjunct Professor Jan Barry Crumb, who teaches environmental writing; Adjunct Professor Chuck Stead, who teaches courses in environmental investigations; and environmental studies Professor Michael Edelstein, the panel chair.

The event, which is open to the public, is sponsored by the Ramapo College Institute of Environmental Studies.The panel will discuss why environmental cleanups at Superfund sites often take decades, with a focus on the Ringwood Mines Superfund site in New Jersey and sites near the Town of Ramapo landfill in Rockland County, New York. These sites were all contaminated by paint sludge and other industrial waste from the former Ford Motor Company plant in Mahwah, NJ.

Panel Chair, Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Psychology, Ramapo College of NJ. He is author of Contaminated Communities, 2nd Edition (Westview 2004) and lead editor of Cultures of Contamination (Elsevier, 2007). Edelstein has a perspective on cleanup activities that stretches back to research done at Love Canal in the late 1970s. He has studied Superfund communities and testified in administrative hearings and toxic torts, not only about the consequences of living in contaminated communities which have not been addressed, but also about the impacts of cleanup itself.

Walter Mugdan, Director of the Emergency and Remedial Response Division at the Region 2 office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), located in New York City.  He heads a staff of some 220 employees responsible for the Region’s “Superfund” toxic waste cleanup, emergency response and brownfields programs.  Previously he headed the Region’s Division of Environmental Planning & Protection, where his staff of about 180 scientists, engineers and planners managed the Region’s air, water, hazardous waste and environmental review programs. Prior to that appointment, he served as Deputy Regional Counsel and then Regional Counsel for Region 2, where he headed a staff of 80 attorneys.   He joined EPA in 1975 as a staff attorney, and subsequently served in various supervisory positions in the Office of Regional Counsel, including Chief of the units responsible for Superfund, RCRA, TSCA and the Clean Air Act.  

Jan Barry Crumb, Journalist, Adjunct Professor, Ramapo College. He is the author of A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Campaigns (Rutgers 2000). During an award-winning career at The Record of Bergen County, NJ, Jan Barry intensively reported on the Ford contamination issues and their impact on the Ramapough Indians. His work with an investigative team of reporters and editors led EPA to reopen the closed Superfund project in Ringwood. The Record's Website documents this effort.

Chuck Stead, Social Ecologist, Adjunct Professor, Ramapo College and Cornell Cooperative Extension. A native of Hillburn, NY, he is a local historian, activist and place scholar who has worked for years on the Ford contamination. Ramapo students, under his supervision, have helped him identify areas of contamination in New York State that have never been addressed previously. These hazardous waste sites are now the subject of cleanup efforts under the New York State DEC. Mr. Stead is in the process of erecting an education center dedicated to the contamination cleanup efforts in the Ramapo Mountains.


Dean Reese said...

I think that's awesome you have so many people willing to help. There are so many people involved with the environment who know so much about it. Having their help will only make the process easier and less time consuming. Good luck with everything you have planned!

0s0-Pa said...

I'm sure some of the construction site cleanups take decades so the cleanup crews can make the most $$$ possible. Some disasters contain toxic pollutants or radioactive materials, so they take longer.