State takes legal action against owner of ‘waste mountain’ in Sussex County

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

The state is taking legal action against a Sussex County resident who they say is operating an unlawful solid waste dump on his property in Vernon Township.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe, filed an Order to Show Cause against Joseph Wallace, after months of complaints from residents about a so-called waste mountain, a 75-foot-high pile of soil and debris they say Wallace allowed to be dumped — illegally — on his property.

The DEP says soil samples from the site showed levels of contamination high enough to classify the site as a solid waste facility, which Wallace does not have a permit to operate.

Wallace claims the material is clean but officials say he hasn’t been able to document that. The state wants to shut the site down and to force Wallace to allow inspectors onto the site to do more testing.

Congressman Josh Gottheimer sat down with activists Friday to discuss the next steps.