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A local leaders’ guide to protect against unwanted residential soil dumping
Clean soil or “clean fill” is often trucked into residential sites throughout New Jersey. Clean soil is fine, but sometimes “clean fill,” which is sold or offered free of charge, may contain contaminants that should not be on residential property.
How to stop illegal fill dumping? Effective action begins at the municipal level, where local governments can take steps to prevent the problem by enacting a municipal soil and fill ordinance. This type of ordinance gives a municipality authority over soil brought into and placed on construction, development and residential properties within municipal boundaries.
Did you know?
It takes a minimum of 500 years to form one inch of topsoil. Source: audubon.org
The battle to keep tainted soil out of New Jersey starts most effectively at the municipal level.
You Have the Power
This model ordinance can help municipal leadership get started. The ordinance is based on existing soil and fill ordinances in place throughout the state. Municipalities can modify and adapt the model ordinance, as necessary and appropriate, to fit their needs.
Officials in Lafayette in May 2019 approved a measure requiring that a permit be secured before disturbing the soil “… by soil removal, soil importation or cut and fill operations on any premises in the Township.” And in Hampton, the Township Committee also has considered an ordinance regulating soil transfer. Find out more about these plans at www.njherald.com/20190513/lafayette-hampton-address-soil-dumping.
Soil and Fill Specifics
These advisory materials from the DEP can offer specifics on state directives.
“Understanding NJDEP’s Requirements for Soil and Fill Materials” – a guide to what is considered acceptable and unacceptable or contaminated fill; includes references on the reuse of restricted-use contaminated soil or fill at DEP-permitted solid waste landfills or remediation sites, sampling and data analysis, as well as contact information
What the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Can Do
The DEP is providing specifics on how municipalities can coordinate with the department, as well as other agencies; and promotes best practices.
Reach out to municipal leaders
Share a model ordinance for municipalities to adopt regulating the deposit of soil and fill materials
Educate in-state and out-of-state business concerns (including developers, contractors, haulers and landscapers) involved in generating, storing and transporting of soil and fill materials regarding New Jersey’s rules and regulations
Promote best practices at regulated facilities and among related industry groups and associations
Develop and maintain advisory materials
When soil/fill material is determined to be solid waste through visual/olfactory evidence or sampling analytics (showing contaminant[s] exist above DEP remediation standards):
In addition to taking any steps provided for in municipal regulations that apply to a site with such fill, the DEP should be contacted to investigate and initiate enforcement action pursuant to Solid Waste Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26-1 et. seq.)
The site is at risk for enforcement and penalties pursuant to established municipal ordinances and, potentially, state laws and regulations
DEP mobile app at WARN NJDEP, for environmental non-emergencies
Receiving soil/fill from a contractor or landscaper?
Request information on the origin of the material, as well as assurances, such as analytical testing results, demonstrating that it is not contaminated above established residential soil remediation standards
Ensure all local codes and ordinances are met prior to accepting the material