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Camden taking action to clean up massive, potentially hazardous pile of dirt

Camden taking action to clean up toxic dirt pile
Camden taking action to clean up toxic dirt pile 01:59

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- A large pile of what some describe as toxic dirty in a Camden neighborhood is leading the city to finally take action. The massive pile of hazardous dirt is one step closer to being cleared up after the City of Camden announced they're taking over the property on 7th and Chestnut Streets. 

"We've been working diligently every week," Mayor Victor Carstarphen said, "working in the court systems to figure out how we're going to take care of this matter. The bottom line with all of this is Camden is not a dumping ground."

On Monday, city and federal officials came together after a year-long promise to get rid of the issue.

Residents like Charles Henderson have been living with the sight and smell coming from the property since 2016.

"Do you smell it? Even in the air, you smell it," Henderson said. "If you smell this stuff, you're going to catch something."

Those health concerns are echoed by environmental groups like the National Institute for Healthy Human Spaces. 

"If people have breathed in toxic material in the last five years," National Institute for Healthy Human Spaces executive director Roy Jones said, "they are affected from a health standpoint, from a safety standpoint."

Massive, potentially hazardous pile of dirt has become plague in Camden 02:04

The property was originally owned by Weyhill Realty Holdings. 

But after ongoing legal battles, the city will use $5 million from the American Rescue Plan to clean it all up.

"It doesn't just harm our environment," New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said, "it is a mark of indignity left upon our communities."

As for Henderson, he hopes the city will follow through with its promise and focus on the health of those living in bergen square.

"It's impacted everyone's health around the neighborhood," Henderson said.

From now until November, officials will be sampling the soil. 

Come 2023, the city hopes to start removing the dirt.

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