HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – The Hunterdon County Health Department recently sent an advisory notification to all municipalities in the County, warning of the delivery of potentially contaminated soil or ‘dirty dirt’ disguised as clean fill at construction, development and residential sites.
Health Department Director Karen DeMarco stated, “The Hunterdon County Health Department has received reports of potentially non-compliant soil being offered as clean fill in Hunterdon County. In some cases, fill is being offered free to residents online.
It is a statewide problem. Dumping contaminated soil could pose a threat to the public safety and health of residents and damage the environment. Contaminants leaching from illegally dumped dirt can pollute neighboring properties and drinking water supplies.”
DeMarco explained in the communication sent to municipal clerks, “‘Fill’ refers to material placed on land for the purposes of filling low areas, changing the contours of an area, stabilizing existing grades and/or raising the grade of an area. Clean fill is appropriate for these uses.
Unacceptable fill includes any materials containing debris (wood, metals, plastics, wire, wall board, roofing materials, insulation, carpets or padding, trash, etc.) mixed in with soils and nondecomposable material. Unacceptable fill may also include hazardous chemicals that exceed residential use standards.”
Municipal officials are encouraged to report suspicious soil or fill dumping to the Hunterdon County Health Department at 908-788-1351.
Residents receiving soil/fill from a contractor or landscaper are encouraged to request information on the origin of material and health ensure that the fill is not contaminated and is at or above established residential soil remediation standards.
The Health Department Director noted, “Soil being offered free or at a low-cost should be carefully considered. Saving money on fill now, may cost much more in clean-up costs, if it is contaminated and ordered to be removed. Property owners need to be aware that cleanup of contaminated fill is potentially costly to the property-owner, as the responsible party for removing harmful soil.”
The NJDEP has created the “Guard Your Yard” education campaign for municipalities. Municipal officials are encouraged to visit the site to learn more about model ordinances that can be adopted to regulate the use of soil and fill in a municipality.