VERNON, N.J. — A New Jersey man is fighting to stay out of jail — after being convicted of running an illegal landfill on his front yard.
Dangerous chemicals have been found in the pile at 3 Silver Spruce Drive in Vernon, which is currently five stories and stretches over two acres.
Neighbors live in fear of what might leak into the air, water and soil.
“The stress level has been unbelievable,” said Peg Distasi, a neighbor. “Sometimes 10 or 12 trucks were backed up waiting, one at a time, to dump and then leave. It went on all day like that.”
Neighbors say they witnessed asphalt, toilet bowls, septic piping, brick, rock and materials from gas stations being dumped on the site.
After protests by residents, the dumping has stopped. But the cleanup is just beginning.
The owner, Joseph Wallace, was sentenced to up to 90 days in jail by a municipal judge. Wallace is currently appealing that conviction. While a state lawsuit has prompted another judge to freeze all of his assets because the mess is expected to cost millions to clean up.
Chemicals and carcinogens have been found, including volatile organic compounds, PCBs and pesticides.
“So you’re going to have to get this cleaned up. That’s going to take money from Wallace, whatever he’s got to clean this up,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).
Gottheimer also said he’s pursuing state and federal dollars aimed at cleaning up waste.
No one appeared to be home at Wallace’s house today.
The state is also pursuing action against trucking companies that came to dump in his yard without a permit.