|October 21, 2008
Federal Legislation Requires Solid Waste Facilities along Railroad Tracks to Meet State and Local Requirements
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.
The battle to regulate these North Jersey facilities became a nationwide issue when six other states filed briefs to support New Jersey’s legal challenge to the railroad’s activities. In 2005, the League joined a coalition of 10 New Jersey local governments, municipal associations and trade groups in requesting the Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to rule against allowing unregulated waste facilities at rail yards to continue disregarding state environmental laws. Congressional hearings were held, and New Jersey municipal officials testified along with others on the matter.
All of these efforts have been rewarded by the passage and signing of this legislation, and we thank our legislators and members who were instrumental in this effort to protect the health and quality of life of New Jersey residents.
CORZINE APPLAUDS NEW RAIL SIDE WASTE TRANSFER MEASURES
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.