ENVIRONMENT

Camden announces plan to transform illegal dumping site

BY Andrew Schmertz, Correspondent |

On one side of the fence, a park where basketball is played. On the other, one of the worst illegal dumping sites in the state. But now, Camden has a plan and the money to clean it up.

“Today marks the beginning of what will be the start  a transformational open space project.  The end of Camden’s biggest illegal dumping site, the removal of a blighted brownfield and most importantly and improved quality of life for this community,” said Camden Mayor Frank Moran.

 The clean-up effort is on the site of the old Camden Labs. Besides tearing down dilapidated buildings, environmental crews will have to carry out tons of contaminated dirt. Mercury, lead and other toxins are spewed throughout the land from years of illegal dumping. Kris Kolluri is from the non-profit Camden redevelopment group, Cooper’s Ferry.

CEO and President of Cooper’s Ferry, Kris Kolluri said, “From a social justice standpoint nothing is more harmful to a person’s health, to a person’s environment and to the general image than illegal dumping.”

The cleanup will cost about a 1.5 million dollars and is being spearheaded by the Camden Collaborative Initiative and the Camden Redevelopment Agency.

The US EPA and the state DEP are among the federal and state agencies providing key funds. It’s part of the overall rehabilitation of this section of the city.

NJ DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe said, “There are many other challenges that the people of Camden have faced environmentally, from flood waters to air pollution to things we have all worked on together and made a better place with all the work that has been done so far.”

Illegal dumping has been a problem in Camden for some time. The city says it spends 4.5 million dollars a year cleaning it up.

Moran said, “A high percentage of the illegal dumping was from out of state and out of Camden city, and Camden county for that matter. We are going to change our ways, we are going to be more aggressive, we’re going to start an advertising campaign and we’re going to increase the illegal dumping fines and we’re going to after illegal dumping.”

Camden has been working to turn eyesores into parks for some time.  This park on the waterfront is one example of an industrial area that is now green space.

Camden resident Tiffani Queensbury said, “I like how they’re coming to my community, fixing up our community.”

After decades of decay, the city hopes this site will be cleaned up by the end of the year.