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Legislation Will Protect Health, Safety and Environment

TRENTON- 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.

“These facilities cannot operate outside of the law, without sprinkler systems or, in some cases, marked safety exits,” said Joseph V. Doria, Jr., Department of Community Affairs Commissioner and Chairman of the NJMC.  “This settlement puts a stop to those unacceptable practices and gives us the tools to ensure residents, workers and first responders are protected from fire hazards, pollution and other dangers.”

“Senator Lautenberg and New Jersey's congressional team have shown tremendous leadership in crafting this legislation, which gives the DEP the authority to ensure rail waste-transfer stations are held to the same tough environmental standards as all solid waste facilities,” DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said. “Everyone's goal since the beginning has been to protect the health, safety and environment of our residents.”

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.


Photos from Governor Corzine's public events are available
in the Governor's Newsroom section on the State of New Jersey web page,





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