TRENTON, NJ - The Christie Administration is making the safe removal of debris a top priority, working hard with communities to remove these materials to landfills, incinerators and recycling facilities as quickly as possible so that residents can begin to rebuild, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said today.
"The scope of the devastation the storm inflicted on New Jersey is unprecedented," Commissioner Martin said. "Our number one goal is to safely remove debris from the streets of our storm-ravaged cities and towns. We are working diligently, in cooperation with cities, towns and counties, plus haulers and disposal facilities to make sure we haul away debris as quickly and efficiently as possible."
The storm has left millions of cubic yards of materials that need to be hauled away. So far, the DEP has approved 100 temporary debris management areas to help ensure a steady flow of debris from communities that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
These temporary debris management areas have been established in a variety of locations, including parking lots, municipal public works yards, former landfills, and empty fields, to name some. Local staging areas allow municipalities to get debris off the streets quickly, reducing health and safety concerns and improving access to these communities. They are located from Bergen County to Atlantic County. The majority are in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
"I commend the tremendous efforts by officials in our municipalities who, in the face of staggering challenges brought on by the storm, immediately recognized the importance of clearing debris from communities as one of the first steps toward helping their residents and businesses recover from Sandy," Commissioner Martin said.
Even before the storm hit, the DEP set in motion the framework for a system of temporary debris management areas for the staging and source separation of materials for proper disposal and recycling.
The DEP is also working with the Treasury Department to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of contractors available to work with local governments to haul away debris and has issued hundreds of temporary vehicle registrations to vehicles to increase waste-hauling capacity. In addition, the state has hired contractors to monitor the waste flow and ensure that it is managed properly.
Among the steps taken by the DEP to manage storm debris include:
* Expediting the review of applications for local debris staging areas;
* Engaging with municipalities and counties, as well as representatives of New Jersey's solid waste and recycling industries, to evaluate ongoing and anticipated solid waste and recycling demands to ensure there is sufficient capacity in the system to handle storm debris;
* Authorizing state, county and municipal entities and permitted solid waste facilities in the state to obtain temporary DEP registrations for commercial vehicles and equipment to be used in hauling storm waste;
* Issuing a statewide enforcement alert noting that illegal dumping will be subject to mandatory fines and possible vehicle forfeiture. Illegal dumping may be reported to local police or the DEP's emergency hotline at 877-WARNDEP (877-927-6337). For questions during business hours, call the DEP at 609-292-6305;
* Working to ensure resumption of normal trash and recycling collection services to communities throughout the state. Residents should contact local public works or municipal recycling coordinators or visit their websites for details.
In addition, the DEP has assigned staff to work with storm-affected municipalities one-on-one, serving as liaisons to help them work through any concerns, advise them on the availability of resources, and ensure the cleanup proceeds smoothly.
These experts are helping to prioritize which towns need the most assistance in moving debris. They are also helping municipalities work through the FEMA reimbursement process.
DEP inspectors and local authorities are closely monitoring storm debris removal to ensure protection of the environment and public health. Activities such as illegal dumping, hauling without proper approval, and price-gouging will not be tolerated. Violators will be prosecuted.
A list of solid waste facilities and operating hours as well as various DEP actions and guidance documents related to debris management may be found at: www.nj.gov/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/debris.htm<http://www.nj.gov/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/debris.htm>