One of the biggest automakers in the nation, Ford Motor Company, is being sued by the state of New Jersey for allegedly disposing waste on the territories of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, a federally recognized Native American tribe.

The company is accused of disposing thousands of tons of toxic paint sludge and other pollutants on the site of a former iron mine in northern New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s. The lawsuit also claims the company donated or sold the land without disclosing the contamination. Tribal members claim that as a result, they have developed severe health issues like cancer and congenital disabilities.

However, these health problems aren’t the focus of the case. Instead, it demands compensation for the loss of natural resources and holds the automaker accountable for “deliberate acts or omissions taken with a wanton and willful disregard for the welfare of the residents of New Jersey.” 

The Environmental Protection Agency has found contaminants at the site, including lead, arsenic, and benzene. 

In a statement to Grist, a Ford spokesperson said, “Ford takes its environmental responsibility seriously and has shown that through our actions to address issues in Upper Ringwood. We understand this has affected the community and have worked cooperatively with the Borough of Ringwood, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency while implementing the remediation plan stipulated by the EPA.”

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