Warren County Facility for Water Pollution Violations
(03/128) TRENTON - New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that Organic
Agriculture, Inc. (OAI) located in Warren County was issued
a $15,000 fine for illegally discharging pollutants into
a tributary of the Pequest River.
"Organic Agriculture's repeated failure
to address inadequate stormwater runoff controls is irresponsible
and disregards the public's right to clean water resources,"
said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "The Pequest
River is prime habitat for wildlife such as trout, and the
river's health and water quality are at risk when companies
like Organic Agriculture make environmental compliance a
OAI owns and operates a facility located
at 101 East Quarry Road in Oxford Township that stores soil
blends containing sludge products known as Marketable Residual
Product (MRP) or Meadow Life, which is produced and distributed
by the Middlesex County Utilities Authority. OAI blends
MRP with other soil and stores the blend on site prior to
distribution as soil conditioner to establish and maintain
agronomic and horticultural crops, for landfill cover or
land reclamation projects. While the DEP considers the reuse
of sludge materials for reclamation projects beneficial
to the environment, OAI failed to manage its soil blends
in a manner protective of the area's water resources.
Responding to local resident and township
complaints, on April 3, 2003 DEP enforcement officers inspected
OAI and observed dark brown runoff from the southeast corner
of a large stockpile of soil blends containing MRP. The
contaminated runoff was entering an intermittent stream
that empties into a pasture adjacent to a tributary of the
Pequest River. The DEP issued OAI a Notice of Violation
(NOV) on April 4, as well as on May 1, and August 7 after
two subsequent inspections coordinated with the Warren County
Health Department revealed similar runoff violations.
During the inspections, DEP enforcement
officers collected samples of the dark brown runoff from
the stockpile of soil blends that had accumulated in the
tributary stream. The samples revealed that the runoff contained
metals including nickel, zinc and copper, and very high
levels of ammonia. MRP is defined as a pollutant under state
In addition to a $15,000 fine, OAI was
ordered to discontinue receiving MRP from the Middlesex
County Utilities Authority. The DEP also has required that
the amount of soil blends containing MRP stockpiled on the
site be reduced from 45,000 cubic yards to 20,000 cubic
yards by October 31, 2003.
OAI has requested an administrative hearing
to contest the DEP penalty.