Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck began his term facing the environmental problem of illegal dumping. From day one, New Jersey’s top law enforcement official is demonstrating that he cares deeply about the environmental problem he is trying to solve.
According to a report by Michael Sol Warren from nj.com, in a joint effort with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Bruck’s office has asked a court to force the clean-up of a massive pile of dirt and construction debris in the heart of Camden.
“No community in New Jersey should be used as an illegal dumping ground, and no resident of this state should have their health and safety put at risk by illegal dumping near their home,” Bruck said in a statement.
He added that environmental issues must be taken into account when aiming to create a just society. “We cannot achieve racial justice without environmental justice, and I’m proud that one of my first acts as Acting Attorney General involves standing up for the people of Camden.”
The uncovered pile on the 600 block of Chestnut Street, not far from the Delaware River and the Camden waterfront, is spilling onto neighboring properties and into sidewalks and streets.
People´s health affected
Officials have informed that the pile is a source of dust blowing through the surrounding neighborhood, and that dust affects the people´s health. Soil testing done by the DEP in November at the dump site found elevated levels of harmful substances like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and chromium, both of which are known carcinogens.
The state first sued over the site in May, but DEP scrutiny of the property dates back to 2002, according to the new filings. That lawsuit was filed against S. Yaffa & Sons, Inc., the former owner of the property and alleged initiator of the dumping, and Weyhill Realty Holdings, LLC, which bought the land in 2019.
The illegal dumping operation has antecedents. The state first sued over the site in May, but DEP scrutiny of the property dates back to 2002, according to the new filings. That lawsuit was filed against S. Yaffa & Sons, Inc., the former owner of the property and alleged initiator of the dumping, and Weyhill Realty Holdings, LLC, which bought the land in 2019.
The state alleges Weyhill allowed the dumping to continue after it purchased the site. City officials directed Weyhill to stop operations at the property in April. Weyhill has complied with the stop-work order, but has not conducted any clean-up work, according to the state.
The new court request aims to force Weyhill to prevent a potential pile landslide onto neighboring property, and to clean the site. It also asks that clean-up work be done in a way that prevents further air and water pollution. Additionally, the state is seeking fines against the defendants for ongoing violations of state environmental laws.
DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette called the dump “intolerable.”
“Those who violate our waste laws are not just harming our environment, they are damaging the spirit of our communities,” LaTourette said in a statement.