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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2007

Contact: Darlene Yuhas (609) 984-1795
Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994

DEP COMMISSIONER DECIDES $700,000 PENALTY AGAINST POLLUTER WILL STICK

(07/50) TRENTON - A shuttered solid-waste facility with a history of running afoul of state environmental laws must pay $700,000 for persistent violations its owner could have easily corrected, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced today.

Upholding an administrative court judge’s initial ruling, Commissioner Jackson decided Magic Disposal Company Inc. should be held responsible for the full penalty the DEP had imposed for chronic disregard of its permit to operate a materials recovery facility on Ridge and Jefferson avenues in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County.

“For at least two years, this facility’s sloppy operation unnecessarily exposed the community to the risk of a serious environmental event. Time and again, Magic Disposal refused to obey environmental laws, mistakenly believing its accountability to public health and safety might somehow disappear,” Commissioner Jackson said.

From February 2002 through December 2004, Magic Disposal repeatedly violated its solid-waste permit by bringing in far more waste than allowed and by storing and processing waste outside of its building. Tons of waste routinely piled in front of Magic Disposal’s facility and throughout its property attracted rats and other vermin and created health and safety hazards. In addition, Magic Disposal failed to clear its floors of waste every 24 hours, risking the possibility of fires sparked by a residual buildup of heat within certain waste materials.

Further, Magic Disposal degraded air quality by failing to use its air-pollution-control equipment during operating hours, and failed to maintain adequate wastewater control, which caused polluted water to pond in the facility.

During frequent visits to the facility, inspectors with the DEP and the Atlantic County Health Department issued citations for numerous environmental violations. Magic Disposal’s owner and operator, Steve Waszen, however, continued to resist inspectors’ efforts to bring the facility into compliance.

In January 2005, the DEP revoked Magic Disposal’s permit, and a month later issued the $700,000 penalty in an administrative order.

Magic Disposal appealed the DEP enforcement action, and the case was heard before Administrative Law Judge W. Todd Miller.

In rendering his initial decision recently, Judge Miller noted that Magic Disposal could have easily rectified its mounting environmental violations by controlling and limiting its daily solid-waste intake, installing moveable barriers and confining its operations to state-approved areas on site.

“Judge Miller showed remarkable insight in this case by recognizing Magic Disposal’s owner and operator as someone who ‘rejected important environmental safeguards as unnecessary, excessive and unimportant,’” Commissioner Jackson said.

Under New Jersey’s Administrative Procedures Act, the Commissioner is empowered to adopt, modify or reject the administrative law judge’s initial decision.

"We take this kind of conduct very seriously, because it endangers communities and violates the law," said Attorney General Anne Milgram. "Permit holders who persist in ignoring the terms of their permits do so at their own peril. We are committed to working closely with the Department of Environmental Protection to investigate and prosecute violators of the state's environmental laws."

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Last Updated: December 13, 2007