New Jersey Rail Waste Facilities Settle 4-Year Legal Battle

Governor Jon S. Corzine today praised members of New Jersey’s federal delegation along with state officials for their success in a four year battle to protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s citizens and the environment from rail side waste transfer stations operating outside of the law.

“For residents and workers in New Jersey and around the nation, this is an enormous victory” said Governor Corzine, who introduced the legislation with Senator Lautenberg when he served in the Senate. “This legislation clarifies a federal law that operators have exploited in order to accept thousands of tons of trash daily at open dumps near homes, businesses, motels and restaurants. More importantly, thanks to a cooperative effort of local, state and federal officials, our citizens and our communities are now protected from those who seek to evade oversight and regulation.”

On Thursday, President Bush signed legislation that included language from the “Clean Railroads Act of 2008,” sponsored by Senators Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), requiring solid waste facilities along railroad tracks to meet state and local guidelines for health, safety and environmental protection. The federal legislation caps a campaign that began in 2004, when officials from the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection sought to regulate the rail side facilities, in which haulers unload construction debris and other solid waste so that it could be carted to out-of-state dumps by train. The state called on the operators to install fire-suppression systems and other safety equipment, along with pollution controls, and fined five facilities $2.5 million for environmental violations. Railroad officials claimed federal transportation laws exempted them from local and state controls.

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