Space and Wirths bill to stop corrupt recycling of contaminated soil signed into law

Space and Wirths bill to stop corrupt recycling of contaminated soil signed into law

Parker Space

TRENTON, N.J. – A bill (S1683/A4267), sponsored Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths, preventing the illegal dumping of contaminated dirt was signed into law this week. It expands 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.

“This law takes back control from these so-called soil recyclers who are polluting our environment,” said Space (R-Sussex). “Anyone who has profited from illegal dumping has done so at the expense of the public’s health.”

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.

Harold J. Wirths

“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). “That stops now.”

Under the law, soil and fill recycling businesses have 90 days to apply for a temporary registration from the DEP. 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.

“This 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). “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.”