DEP and police step-up roadside inspections of trash haulers
The Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) and the Pennsylvania State Police have agreed to increase
funding for inspections in the coming year that will ensure waste
haulers are obeying state laws.
The unannounced roadside inspections, commonly known as FracNet
and TrashNet, have removed hundreds of unsafe and illegally-operated
waste vehicles from the roadways, including trucks operating
in support of Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations.
“Pennsylvania is one of the largest importers of trash from other
states and has also seen a dramatic increase in the number of
vehicles hauling wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling sites,”
DEP secretary John Hanger said. “This partnership with the state
police has proven to be an effective method in addressing waste
hauling safety and compliance issues throughout the state, and
in putting drilling operators and their contractors on notice
that we expect them to comply with our laws.”
The two agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding that
provides funding to the state police from the Waste Transportation
Safety Account, which is supported by fees, fines and penalties
paid by the waste-hauling industry. The agreement will enable
both agencies to conduct roadside inspections with increased
frequency and duration.
In the first half of 2010, roadside inspections by the state
police and DEP found that more than 40 percent of the large trucks
serving the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry were operating
in violation of state motor carrier safety regulations. Nationally,
since 2006, the trucking industry averaged only a 23-30 percent
out-of-service violation rate.
In June, a three-day enforcement effort involving DEP, state
police, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration focused on trucks hauling
waste water from Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations and
resulted in 250 commercial vehicles being placed out of service
for various vehicle safety deficiencies. Under a similar interagency
agreement in 2009, state police and DEP inspected more than 4,300
waste haulers along Pennsylvania roadways, placing 770 vehicles
out of service and issuing 2,654 traffic citations.
During FracNet and TrashNet enforcement operations, DEP inspectors
check to ensure that waste vehicles have proper signage and required
authorizations, and that daily logs specifying the origin and
type of waste are accurate and up-to-date. Vehicles are checked
for weight and leakage, the presence of working fire extinguishers
and to verify that loads are properly enclosed and secured.
State police teams check vehicle braking systems, exterior lighting
and other equipment that plays a role in operational safety.
They also check drivers for appropriate operator licenses.