Last night, HBO premiered the documentary Mann vs. Ford. It was about a class action lawsuit brought against the Ford corporation by a small band of Indians in hills of New Jersey.
It explored questions of racism, corporate social responsibility, and addressed the inadequacy of EPA cleanups while exploring the circumstances that led to high incidence of cancer and cancer deaths resulting from pollution to the Upper Ringwood, New Jersey area from one of Ford’s largest plants in Mahwah, New Jersey.
The Ramapough band of Upper Ringwood are regarded with the same derisiveness as residents of the Ozarks or the Appalachians. In addition to their reputation as hillbillies, the Ramapough are descendants of African Americans and Native Americans, which seems to be an unseen factor underscoring their treatment throughout the documentary. This blogger on the New Yorker website explores the issue of racism directed towards the band.
EPA Superfund fail
The EPA cleaned up the Ringwood site for over a year, and then one day declared everything to be done. Done, if you consider leaving entire barrels of toxic waste under a cosmetic slab of rock to be done. While pressure has forced the EPA to reopen their cleanup, it makes you wonder how many other Superfund sites are similarly “completed”.
While Ford should be held to account for their treatment of the Ramapough and the dumping of toxic sludge into an environmentally sensitive area of New Jersey, it is important to note that their main rival, GM, is similarly guilty of other crimes. Other automakers shouldn’t be automatically given a halo after this documentary because they aren’t Ford.
If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, it will be airing on and off for the next few weeks on HBO. If you don’t have HBO, it really is a good reason to get it if you are sitting on the fence, especially if they plan on bringing more high-quality documentaries like this to the small screen.