In Camden, a group of residents is quite literally trying to move a mountain — a five-story-high pile of contaminated dirt, construction debris and other waste that takes up about half a city block in Bergen Square. The illegal dumpsite dates back decades but residents say it’s grown in recent years. City officials confirm the pile is contaminated with cancer-causing toxic chemicals.
Community activists have been holding protests to spur action, calling it an example of environmental racism that has plagued Camden for decades. They are demanding that the dirt be immediately removed, the site cleaned, health screenings for residents and testing of air and groundwater quality. The state Department of Environmental Protection and the attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit in May against the site owners. The Camden mayor’s office says it issued a recent cease-and-desist order to the owners and plans to follow up with license violations.