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April 2007

New Jersey solid waste regulations re-introduced

United States Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and United States Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) reintroduced legislation to allow New Jersey to regulate facilities for environmental, health, and safety reasons.

The bill would close a loophole in federal law that has allowed at least one company to build up a number of large piles of garbage along a two mile section of a rail line in North Bergen. Last year, a company in Red Bank also threatened to use this loophole to build an unregulated waste transfer station near a residential community. The trash, largely made of construction debris that can include elevated levels of arsenic and mercury, is kept at sites along the rail line before it is shipped to landfills out of state. Some garbage piles are as tall as two stories and pose a serious health and environmental risk to those who live near the sites.

The state has tried repeatedly to impose regulations on the trash piles in an effort to protect those New Jersey residents who live and work near them, but earlier this month a federal judge ruled against the state.

Lautenberg’s legislation will give the state clear authority to regulate these facilities.

Lautenberg serves as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over railroad issues and oversees the confirmation of STB Board members.

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