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New State Anti-Dumping Initiative Announced; Will Involve Fines, Jail

DEP Cleanup 3-27-1409

Some of the illegally dumped material at the state-owned D&R Canal State Park, off Blackwells Mills Road.

One of the state’s top environmental law enforcers has a message for those who would illegally dump on state-owned open space.

“You do not want to be the next person we catch doing this,” the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Knute Jensen said against a backdrop of mounds of dumped items on state-owned property off Blackwells Mills Road.

Jensen joined DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and other state environmental and local officials March 27 at part of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park to announce the launch of a new program aimed at curbing illegal dumping on state property.

Dubbed, “Don’t Waste Our Open Space,” the program brings together a number of units within DEP to actively investigate cases of illegal dumping and, when the perpetrator is caught, impose stiff civil and criminal penalties.

Also on hand were members of the AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program, Mayor Brian Levine (R) and Township Councilman Ted Chase (D-Ward 1), who later helped clean up much of the debris at the site.

Jensen, director of the DEP’s solid waste and pesticide operation, said state officials are “going to have to make examples of people” before the anti-dumping effort is taken seriously.

Nearly all public land has been impacted by illegal dumping, Martin said. The state manages more than 800,000 acres of preserved open space, he said.

Among the methods the state will use to catch illegal dumping activity are motion-senor cameras deployed at certain state parks and wildlife management areas, Martin said. He said pictures of those convicted of illegal dumping will be posted on a new Web site, www.stopdumping.nj.gov, as will pictures of those suspected of the activity.

“Your face will be up on our Web site for all the world to see,” he said.

Civil and criminal fines will be pursued against those suspected of illegal dumping, Martin said. He said criminal fines could be up to $5,000 per violation, forfeiture of any vehicle used in illegal dumping and loss of a person’s driver’s license.

Civil fines of up to $1,500 could also be imposed, he said.

Major violations would be prosecuted under the state’s Solid Waste Management Act, which carries fines of up to $50,000 per day and jail time, Martin said.

“People will be caught and they will be prosecuted,” Martin said.

Also involved in the effort will be county prosecutors, State Police and the state Attorney General’s office, Martin said.

“The overall success of the project will be determined by how well we can bring the issue to the attention of the state,” he said.

Martin said he hoped the program could be a model for other states to use.

Mark Texel, the DEP’s state park director, said it was their “sacred duty” to ensure that the state’s preserved open space is kept clean, and that people obey state dumping laws.

“It’s unfair that a small minority use our public land to shirk that law,” he said.

“The cavalry has arrived,” Texel said. “We’re here to combat this together. We’re watching you. Your days of wasting our open space are over.”

Levine called illegal dumping “a cowardly act, to pull off the street and dump it here, where no one is looking.”

 

Anti-Dumping Campaign Announced 3-27-14

 

 

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