MAC: Mines and Communities

US UPDATE: Mounting campaigns

Published by MAC on 2006-01-25

US UPDATE: Mounting campaigns

25th January 2006

The world's best-known automobile manufacturer is being accused of a formidable range of acts of environmental and health negligence.

From 1967 until 1974, a company acting on behalf of the Ford Motor Company slung paint and other toxic wastes into an abandoned iron ore mine, located in the Ramapough Mountains - which some geologists say is the oldest rock formation on the planet.

Now, in a thirteen count indictment, Native Americans from the area are seeking damages from the company of no less than US$2 billion (US$3 million for each resident).

For many years, old mine shafts have been used to receive US toxic industrial wastes. It's been proposed elsewhere too (for example, by Waste Management Inc of the US, as a way of "utilising" the Bougainville copper mine pit after its abandonment by Rio Tinto in 1989). Thus, the potentially disastrous consequences of failing to close-down and rehabilitate a metallic mine may be enormously compounded by using it as a toxic dump.

Ironically, three years ago Ford sealed a deal with ALCOA, the world's biggest aluminium producer, to reduce its contributions to negative climate change by manufacturing lightweight cars.

"Taking responsibility for a greener tomorrow" is now Ford's proudly-advertised claim.

But in the view of at least one Ringwood resident, the boast "could only refer to money!"

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