Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a measure intended to crack down on the illegal dumping of tainted and contaminated soil. The new law — which enjoyed widespread support among members of both parties including state Sen. Steve Oroho and Assembly members Parker Space and Hal Wirths, all R-24th Dist. — follows more than a year of protests by Vernon residents demanding a halt to dumping in their community.

The signing of the law was cheered by Vernon Council President Harry Shortway, who testified in favor of the legislation last year, and by Martin O’Donnell, who helped lead the formation of a citizens’ group calling itself People Against Illegal Dumping (PAID).

“This is a great day for PAID and for the town of Vernon,” O’Donnell said. “All of us put a lot of effort into this and it’s nice to see it reaching farther than just the town of Vernon. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done to remediate the many dump sites that have been built up in the past few years.”

The legislation incorporates several recommendations from a 2016 report by the State Commission of Investigation titled “Dirty Dirt,” which chronicled the infiltration into New Jersey’s recycling industry of self-styled “dirt brokers,” some of whom had been banned from the state’s garbage industry because of their reputed mob ties. A second investigative report last June, titled “Dirty Dirt II,” examined the continuation of illegal dumping at a site in Marlboro and elsewhere, and found that the state currently “lacks the authority to properly oversee elements of its recycling program.”

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Author: Eric Obernauer, New Jersey Herald
Photo: New Jersey Herald