Water entered the Peters Mine Shaft after it was abandoned in the 1950s, pooling above the cap that Ford claims to have installed before any dumping took place. It laps around barrels, boxes, a discarded bulldozer, and other waste. In their analysis of 16 water and soil samples near the mine pit, the Edison Wetlands Association found “strong evidence that buried hazardous waste is the source of contaminants to the stream, seeps, pond, and other surfical water flowing out of Peters Mine and the immediately surrounding area” (Washburn 2005). Testing by The Record found lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, Freon, and benzene in streams and pools, as well as lead, nickel, antimony, arsenic, chromium, and copper in the sediments at the bottom of the Ringwood River (Ibid).
The Ringwood Mines Superfund Site sits upstream from the Wanaque Reservoir. Rainwater falls over the sludge-contaminated soil and moves downhill through wetlands, brooks, and rivers before entering the reservoir. Along the way wetland plants serve as filters and beaver ponds work as sedimentation tanks, helping to clean the water and allowing some of the volatile compounds to evaporate. Therefore the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission states that the runoff is clean by the time it reaches the reservoir, after which it is diluted in a 30-billion gallon holding tank before being sent to a water treatment plant. The EPA has been monitoring groundwater and surface water since 1989.
“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” (EPA Superfund website, November 2018).