Expanding on the Murphy Administration’s commitment to create cleaner, safer communities, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has launched a new initiative to support municipalities in combatting illegal dumping, which Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette announced on February 9, 2021.
Spurred by community feedback from listening sessions hosted in environmental justice communities, DEP Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Dragon spearheaded the development of the Collaboration and Deterrence Project of DEP’s Illegal Dumping Program. Through this new Project, DEP will help increase local capacity to combat illegal dumping by loaning deterrence equipment to participating towns and providing training and support to aid local officials in enforcing civil and criminal environmental laws.
Communities participating in the initial launch of the Project include Camden, Fairfield, Jersey City, Linden, Newark, Paterson, Salem, Secaucus, Trenton, Vernon and Vineland.
“Those who violate our waste laws are not just harming our environment, they are damaging the spirit of our communities. Dumping upon our vibrant towns and cities in effect says that our fellow New Jerseyans are somehow less deserving of natural beauty and environmental protection,” Acting Commissioner LaTourette said. “By joining forces with our local partners to deter and prosecute illegal dumping, we are standing for and with one another—and against those who would make any New Jersey community their dumping ground.”
The Project builds upon DEP’s strong partnership with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and the Divisions of Law and Criminal Justice within the Department of Law & Public Safety. Together, the DEP and the Attorney General have made environmental enforcement and environmental justice a key priority for the Murphy Administration.
“Far too frequently polluters will dump waste and hazardous materials, especially in lower income and minority communities, where they believe they can violate the law with impunity,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I am proud to again stand with Acting Commissioner LaTourette and DEP to send a clear message to illegal dumpers: if you pollute our communities, not only will we pursue you with civil actions, we will prosecute you criminally. And, we will help our local partners to enforce these laws as well, because everyone—no matter their race, ethnicity, color, national origin, or income—deserves to live and work in a healthy and clean environment, free from the harmful and degrading effects of polluted air, contaminated water, and illegal dumping.”
“Partnership and teamwork are the hallmarks of this initiative,” said Elizabeth Dragon, Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement. “By building upon our previous successes, listening to our communities and acting collaboratively, the DEP can build stronger environmental compliance across New Jersey.”
The Project will take place over 10 months and will be facilitated by DEP with assistance from the Attorney General’s office. The DEP will procure and provide the equipment, bring partners together for broad training on implementing an illegal dumping program at the local level, as well as impart strategies for deterring illegal dumping. The Attorney General’s office will offer guidance and training on pathways for both civil and criminal enforcement.
Assistant Commissioner Dragon spearheaded the Project following from numerous listening sessions in environmental justice communities, where illegal dumping materialized as a common concern and one where state and local officials could unite their efforts. Through this Project, the DEP will continue engaging more local partners about active dump sites within their communities and hopes to expand the number of towns willing to join this initiative.
“I thank our great partners at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General’s office for providing such amazing opportunities for communities across our state as well as advancing and protecting the environmental needs of all New Jersey residents,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “Illegal dumping is an imminent threat to the public health of Newark residents as they may unknowingly be exposed to harmful toxins or chemicals. The City of Newark is excited about our selection to participate in NJDEP’s new Collaboration And Deterrence project in partnership with the Attorney General’s office, where City of Newark employees will be trained on how to advance enforcement regulations against illegal dumping and will be provided state-of-the-art Q-Star Technology FlashCam deterrent camera systems. This initiative will further our fight against illegal dumping and our ability to enforce regulations and ordinances to keep our community clean and push Newark forward to a healthier city.”
“Cleaning up, monitoring, and enforcing instances of illegal dumping costs taxpayers a significant amount of money each year which can also drive down property values due to safety concerns and aesthetic reasons that can hinder development as well as those looking to make investments in our community,” added Khalif Thomas, Newark’s Public Works Director. “This new project will be prioritized and will become a focal point of my department and I look forward to working closely and collaboratively with Newark’s Department of Public Safety, NJDEP as well as the Attorney General’s office to ensure our program’s success. Our city will undoubtedly benefit from this program, as we are laser focused on increasing the health and safety of our residents as well as ensuring the future health and safety of our community is safeguarded.”
Mayors in other New Jersey cities also hailed the program.
“Illegal dumping has been a chronic problem in the Capital City, and we’ll never truly achieve environmental justice for our residents unless we do everything we can to make Trenton an inhospitable place for individuals who recklessly disregard our dumping laws,” said Mayor W. Reed Gusciora of Trenton. “Today’s announcement builds on our long-term partnership with the DEP by providing the training and surveillance that is essential to stepping up enforcement throughout our city. On behalf of Trenton residents, I thank the DEP for selecting us for this program and allocating these resources where they are needed the most.”
“We are excited to be chosen by NJDEP to participate in the IDP-CAD project to combat illegal dumping in our city,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “All of our residents, including those who live close to highways and other easy access points, deserve clean neighborhoods and healthy public spaces. These cameras and techniques will help us hold accountable illegal dumpers who completely disregard this basic right. This program will complement our current local anti-dumping efforts, as well as our partnership with NJDEP through the Community Collaborative Initiative. It can’t start soon enough.”
“In a city facing numerous environmental challenges, illegal dumping continues to be a costly and pervasive issue,” Camden Mayor Francisco ‘Frank’ Moran said. “Mitigating the negative health, environmental, and quality of life impacts of illegal dumping cost Camden taxpayers more than $4 million annually and have an innumerable impact to the city’s reputation. Camden is pleased to be selected for DEP’s Illegal Dumping Program – Collaboration and Deterrence (IDP-CAD) project to continue its work with the Camden Collaborative Initiative to strengthen enforcement, prevention and education strategies.”
“Our taxpayers should not be held responsible for the costly cleanups caused by these irresponsible lawbreakers,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said. “Illegal dumping sites often become magnets for even more dumping, and so we’re thankful to partner with the NJDEP to boost our efforts of deterring and enforcing illegal dumping, which includes installing cameras in strategic locations throughout the city.”
“We are very happy to be selected to participate in the IDP-CAD project,” Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci said. “Illegal dumping pollutes our environment, drives down property values, and costs taxpayers money each year through cleanup, monitoring and enforcement actions. Vineland Code Enforcement Officers are constantly checking known and suspected dump sites and working with municipal prosecutors in order to punish offenders. However, our resources are limited. Additional support through the IDP-CAD Program will help us to reduce incidences of illegal dumping throughout the city.”
Municipalities facing illegal dumping and interested in partnership with the DEP are encouraged to visit www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement for more information or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.