August 5, 2005
Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic to Sue Railraoad and Others for Using "Illegal" Waste Transfer Stations
Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic, representing the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper and Hackensack Riverkeeper annouced their intent to sue the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp. and eight companies for allegedly violating federal law at a string of "illegal" waste transfer stations on the edge of the Meadowlands.
In a story appearing in NorthJersey.com, it was reported that the railroad and recycling and hauling companies are violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by allowing potentially harmful pollutants to enter the air, water and environment from the "open air dumps" along the tracks.
The threatened legal action comes a week after acting Governor Codey announced the formation of a multi-agency task force to investigate the transfer facilities. The railroad was fined $2.5 million by the Department of Environmental Protection for alleged violations of state solid waste and air pollution laws at the five North Bergen sites, which opened without state approval.
New Jersey's federal lawmakers, meanwhile, have introduced legislation to close a loophole that allows rail lines to operate waste management facilities outside the purview of state and local authorities.
"I lived through the Meadowlands worst days," Sheehan said. "I'm now a big part of its renaissance ... and to have this railroad cloak themselves under some federal law and say they can continue to degrade the Meadowlands after all the work that we've done to try to clean it up, I take it as a personal insult."
While applauding the state's actions, Hackensack Riverkeeper Bill Sheehan said they are not enough to stop the problem.
"We support acting Governor Codey's call to harass these garbage dumps, and the significant fines imposed by the DEP, but public health and the environment will continue to suffer until the facilities are shut down," Sheehan declared.
"The railroad's arrogance is astounding," said Baykeeper Andrew Willner. "They think they are above the law" and are ignoring the "extremely hazardous pollution conditions" at the transfer sites.
Under the federal law, citizens can sue to abate violations but must give the defendants and governmental agencies 90 days notice before commencing legal action. The environmental groups are hoping the state will join the litigation and use it as a means to close down the transfer operations.
August 5, 2005 | Permalink
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