NEW JERSEY – Expanding on the Murphy Administration’s commitment to create cleaner, safer communities, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has launched a new initiative to support municipalities in combatting illegal dumping, Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced Monday.
Spurred by community feedback from listening sessions hosted in environmental justice communities, DEP Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Dragon spearheaded the development of the Collaboration and Deterrence Project of DEP’s Illegal Dumping Program. Through this new Project, DEP will help increase local capacity to combat illegal dumping by loaning deterrence equipment to participating towns and providing training and support to aid local officials in enforcing civil and criminal environmental laws.
Communities participating in the initial launch of the Project include Camden, Fairfield, Jersey City, Linden, Newark, Paterson, Salem, Secaucus, Trenton, Vernon Township and Vineland.
“Those who violate our waste laws are not just harming our environment, they are damaging the spirit of our communities. Dumping upon our vibrant towns and cities in effect says that our fellow New Jerseyans are somehow less deserving of natural beauty and environmental protection,” Acting Commissioner LaTourette said. “By joining forces with our local partners to deter and prosecute illegal dumping, we are standing for and with one another—and against those who would make any New Jersey community their dumping ground.”
The project builds upon DEP’s strong partnership with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and the Divisions of Law and Criminal Justice within the Department of Law & Public Safety. Together, the DEP and the Attorney General have made environmental enforcement and environmental justice a key priority for the Murphy Administration.
“Far too frequently polluters will dump waste and hazardous materials, especially in lower income and minority communities, where they believe they can violate the law with impunity,” Grewal said. “I am proud to again stand with Acting Commissioner LaTourette and DEP to send a clear message to illegal dumpers: if you pollute our communities, not only will we pursue you with civil actions, we will prosecute you criminally. And, we will help our local partners to enforce these laws as well, because everyone—no matter their race, ethnicity, color, national origin, or income—deserves to live and work in a healthy and clean environment, free from the harmful and degrading effects of polluted air, contaminated water, and illegal dumping.”
“Partnership and teamwork are the hallmarks of this initiative,” said Elizabeth Dragon, Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement. “By building upon our previous successes, listening to our communities and acting collaboratively, the DEP can build stronger environmental compliance across New Jersey.”
The project will take place over 10 months and will be facilitated by DEP with assistance from the Attorney General’s office. The DEP will procure and provide the equipment, bring partners together for broad training on implementing an illegal dumping program at the local level, as well as impart strategies for deterring illegal dumping. The Attorney General’s office will offer guidance and training on pathways for both civil and criminal enforcement.
Assistant Commissioner Dragon spearheaded the project following from numerous listening sessions in environmental justice communities, where illegal dumping materialized as a common concern and one where state and local officials could unite their efforts. Through this project, the DEP will continue engaging more local partners about active dump sites within their communities and hopes to expand the number of towns willing to join this initiative.