Summertime is the ideal time to get friends and family together at the local lake or river and just have a great time. You know how it goes, the wieners are cooking, the jet skis are going, and the air is filled with laughter. Unfortunately, this scene is merely a dream for those who live in areas where toxic chemicals pollute their waterways and spread sickness throughout their towns. All across America there are people who have to live with elements like lead, mercury, and dioxin in their water. These and other elements cause developmental and reproductive disorders and are also known to cause all types of cancer. In 2007, ExxonMobil was the largest reported polluter. They released 4.2 million pounds of toxic waste into the Mississippi River in Louisiana, my home state.
Less than 40 miles from Midtown Manhattan in Northern New Jersey, the Ramapough Indians have lived peacefully for 250 years. In the 1960s, Ford Motor Company bought the Ramapough land in Mahwah and began dumping toxic waste in the woods and abandoned iron mines around their homes. The toxins were supposedly cleaned up in the 1980s but thousands of tons were left behind. When asked why the tribe hasn’t left because of the dumping, community leader Wayne Mann simply said because it’s their home and he’s right this is their home. They have lived here for 250 years so why should they have to leave? It’s Ford’s responsibility to clean up after themselves so that the public can be safe. I guess they figure who cares about them we’re Ford. Well Ford, I care and so do lots of other people. Ford says that the toxic dumping follows all EPA guidelines but how can that possibly be true when there isn’t a single person in this tribe who is in good health? Rashes, bleeding from the nose, eyes, and throat, and severe headaches are just a few of the effects of these toxic chemicals. Sadly, no one truly realized that their health problems were abnormal until the children of this community attended school with kids from neighboring communities.
Toxic dumping happens more often than we think and more often than it should. These companies think that since they are huge then they can get away with anything and to be honest if the price is right they really can. We all know the saying, “Money talks, all else walks.” The only thing that these big name companies don’t usually count on are communities banding together to get their stories heard so that justice can be served. Home is supposed to be a place of calm and relaxation, not pain and heartache. Children should be able to play freely and make mud pies out of actual mud, not paint sludge. All of these toxins aren’t just hurting these communities but they’re hurting the world. If we destroy Earth, where are we going to go?