Carcinogens found at dump site

Vernon. Tests from DEP finds dangerous material at Silver Spruce Drive dump site, while officials call for accountability.

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The worst fears of officials came to light last week when results from the dirt pile on the property of Joseph Wallace in Vernon Township were shown to contain elevated levels of contaminants that have been linked to cancer.

Tests taken from the pile showed high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphelnyls (PCBs).

“It would be a lot easier if it came out clean,” Vernon Township Mayor Harry Shortway said on Tuesday. “We’re going to have to deal with it. The DEP’s going to have to answer for it, as will Mr. Wallace.”

The case will return to trial on May 8 in Superior Court where Wallace, owner of the dump site at 3 Silver Spruce Drive, will face more than 80 violations. This fight has been ongoing since 2014 with the initial stop-work order.

Shortway said there are still questions remaining.

We’ll see how much more the DEP gets involved and my question is how much of these other sites that Mr. Wallace has been dumping,” he said.

For the recent movement with the state, Shortway credited U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, along with State Sen. Steve Oroho, and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths.

They’re not going to listen to a mayor, so I’m very appreciative of all their efforts bringing this to the front,” Shortway said. I say over and over, ‘we have to draw a line in the sand. Not in this area. It’s not coming.’”

“Unfortunately, our worst fears were realized with the news that cancer causing contaminants were discovered in soil samples taken from the massive dirt pile on Mr. Wallace’s property,” Oroho, Space and Wirths said in a statement. “It is now increasingly incumbent upon the NJDEP to be very clear with the community on how they plan to proceed in order to protect the public’s health. We continue to stand ready to assist in any way that we can.”

Since township police were given authority to enforce the stop orders at the site in late February, Shortway said there were two trucks seen going into the site. Both were turned around.

“The police have done a marvelous job,” he said. “They just needed permission to do it. Chief (Randy) Mills has been looking for it and now Chief (Dan) Young has the permission and they’re doing their jobs.”

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