SEASIDE HEIGHTS MAN CHARGED IN DEP CRACKDOWN TO COMBAT ILLEGAL DUMPING ON STATE LANDS ORDERED TO PAY $21,000 IN PENALTIES
“DON’T WASTE OUR OPEN SPACE” INITIATIVE LEADS TO DISCOVERY OF ASBESTOS IN STATE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
(14/P68) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) new initiative to crack down on illegal dumping in state parks and natural lands has resulted in charges of a Seaside Heights man who has been court-ordered to pay more than $21,000 in penalties.
The DEP’s “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” campaign was launched in late March. Since the launch, investigations of illegal dump sites on state properties by State Park Police, Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Conservation Officers and DEP’s Compliance & Enforcement personnel has resulted in 10 arrests or enforcement actions.
On April 26, Conservation Officer Sean McManus located eight garbage bags with siding shingles containing asbestos and other debris along Dover Road in the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area in Lacey Township, Ocean County. An investigation of the contents in the garbage led McManus to Adam Wardell, 25, of Seaside Heights.
Wardell acknowledged dumping the garbage bags after being paid to remove them from a residence in Brick Township, according to Division of Fish & Wildlife Conservation Officers. Wardell was charged with illegally dumping solid waste in a State Wildlife Management Area. On June 17, under a plea agreement at Lacey Township Municipal Court, Wardell pled guilty and was ordered to pay $21,533 in penalties.
“Our wildlife management areas provide numerous recreational opportunities for all residents of New Jersey. Our state conservation officers will aggressively prosecute any person or persons who tarnish these natural lands for the purpose of illegally disposing of waste,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Law Enforcement Chief Mark Chicketano. “Abandoned hazardous waste dumped in our natural areas and state parks, in particular, is a serious crime that can impact people, wildlife and the ecology.”
The “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” program is a coordinated effort of a host of DEP agencies, including Parks, Fish & Wildlife, Solid Waste, Water Resources, State Forestry Services and the Natural Lands Trust. All activities of this new effort are posted on www.stopdumping.nj.gov, a new website that serves as a hub for the entire program
The campaign incorporates strict enforcement of illegal dumping practices, while raising awareness of the problem through outreach and education.
Strategically deployed motion-sensor cameras have been set up in select state parks and wildlife management areas to help nab violators. Information on arrests and charges filed in connection with illegal dumping will be posted on www.stopdumping.nj.gov.
The DEP is being aggressive in its pursuit of civil and criminal complaints against violators. Penalties for illegal dumping in state parks and in fish and wildlife areas will include criminal fines of up to $5,000 per violation and civil penalties of up to $1,500 per violation. In addition, the state also will seek much stiffer penalties for major violations through the Solid Waste Management Act, which authorizes the DEP and county health departments to initiate civil actions for illegal dumping violations.
Illegal dumping, which includes everything from unlawful disposal of construction debris and old TVs and computers to the dumping of car parts and tires-- and even entire vehicles -- has been a growing problem in the state’s vast natural holdings in all 21 counties in recent years.
Nearly all of the state’s more than 170 publicly owned tracts, including state parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, marinas, and natural lands and preserves, have been impacted by illegal dumping. These lands account for 813,000 acres of state-preserved open space.