A Toxic What?

Glen Ridge, Montclair, West Orange, New Jersey Radium Super Fund Site

*I want to dig through this now before I forget why I dug it up in the first place “.

It was a breezy fall day in 1981. I was driving home from a friend’s house when I noticed several dump trucks and bulldozers parked one block away from the house I grew up in.  This site was too close for comfort.   I drove by slowly and saw about 10 men in white space-like hazmat suits, helmets and all. 

I had lived in West Orange, New Jersey for 20 years. I had always felt safe; green lawns and well maintained homes.

Now I was alarmed and confused. I immediately asked my parents what was going on and my father claimed they were “some tree-huggers making a big stink over “some” chemicals found in the soil”. He told me I had nothing to worry about.  

In 2000 I started to have more health problems so I decided to get to “the bottom” of the problem. After some research I was shocked. The home I was raised in was sitting on top of a toxic Radium dump site. This site is/was a 120 acres which included 469 residential homes and 10 municipal properties; including ours. Soil was contaminated with radioactive waste materials suspected to have originated from a nearby radium processing plant that operated in the early 1900’s. The company was The U.S. Radium Company; it made luminous dials for watches from 1915-1926. At the time, nobody really knew the dangers of radium (it was a silent killer); decades passed until the women who worked in the factory began getting sick and dying of cancer. I have attached links below getting into greater detail regarding the site, radium and much more. Kate Moore wrote a book called The Radium Girls. I moved out of my parents’ home in late 1982.  For the next few years, whenever I visited my parents home, I would drive by the toxic Radium zone. My father still assured me I had nothing to worry about.   Homes were being torn down and hundreds of barrels were being filled with toxic waste (soil + radium). I often wondered where the EPA was dumping those barrels. Even more importantly, why did they put it there in the first place?

Neighbors were dying from cancer one block away. I’ve always had health problems. If a flu went around, I caught it. At the age of 18, I was hospitalized with Shingles, I had to stay in the hospital for 30 days; my autoimmune system was shot.  It’s still brittle; I’ll always wonder if the toxic exposure had something to do with it? Later in life I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Could my cognitive problems be connected? After researching the history of the Radium site, the more I’m convinced it surely didn’t help my well being.

My Grandfather and Grandmother lived in Orange, several blocks from the Radium factory; my Grandfather died from lung cancer at a very young age. My Grandfather’s Son died in his young 50’s from bone cancer and his Daughter from lung cancer in her young 50’s.

Research also confirmed when building our foundation, basement and side walks of our home, the builders used the toxic ground soil for the concrete. I have inserted the data I found regarding this Super Fund site; it’s really worth the reading!.  I believe the children of several generations should have been notified years later; that never happened!!!  Sad to say, not all homes have been cleared.

Check out these links below:




1 thought on “A Toxic What?

  1. Sad to say there are some regions in Germany with very similar histories.
    In most of those cases it took decades to hold the responsibie people, well, responsible.
    But we finally did.
    And so can anybody.
    Never settle.

    Liked by 1 person

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