In an effort to stop illegal dumping of contaminated dirt, the Assembly voted Monday to advance a bill (S1683/A4267), sponsored Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths, that would expand New Jersey’s solid waste licensing law to include soil and fill recycling businesses.
The bill reflects recommendations stemming from a state investigation that found unscrupulous operators profited by covertly dumping contaminated soil and construction debris at inappropriate and unregulated sites.
“We need to take back control from these so-called soil recyclers who are polluting our environment,” said Space (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “Anyone who has profited from illegal dumping has done so at the expense of the public’s health and it needs to stop.”
A property owner in Vernon created an illegal dump in his backyard that resulted in a 75-foot pile of toxic debris. In October, a superior court judge ordered that property owner’s assets and bank accounts be frozen to pay for the cleanup. A municipal court judge handed down a sentence that included fines and jail time, the assemblymen said.
“There are bad actors contaminating our environment with debris containing cancer-causing agents and they are able to do so by passing themselves off as recyclers who are not currently subject to the same oversight,” said Wirths (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “They are literally doing dirty work and we’ve got to clean things up.”
Under the bill, soil and fill recycling businesses have 90 days from date of enactment to apply to the DEP for a temporary registration. They must apply for an A-901 soil and fill recycling license within 270 days. It also expands the requirement for background checks to more employees involved in the solid waste industry, including consultants and brokers, as well as those in the soil and fill recycling business. The state treasurer will maintain a list of businesses disbarred from contracting with state agencies or had their soil and fill licenses and registrations revoked, the assemblymen said.
“This bill will help put an end to the all-too-common practice of dumping large mounds of contaminated and potentially carcinogenic soil in the hidden areas of our state,” said Sen. Steve Oroho, sponsor of the Senate version (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “This is a despicable business practice. Companies are paid well to properly dispose of toxic dirt, and instead they abandon the material in nature, allowing its poisons to contaminate drinking water and dangerous dust particles to blow in the wind. We are going to put these irresponsible operators out of business.”
The bill unanimously passed the Senate in June.