Change Coming for Dirty Dirt in New Jersey

January 22, 2017
John F. Gullace
MGKF Special Alert - Forecast 2017

New Jersey has made it a priority to encourage the recycling and reuse of dirt, concrete and other building materials, but the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) has come to the realization that the regulatory framework put in place to encourage such recycling has also encouraged the importation of contaminated building material, the reuse of contaminated soil at remediation sites and the infiltration of unscrupulous dirt brokers.  The recycled material coming out of Class B Recycling Facilities is not always in fact clean fill; and the backfill brought to a remediated site via a dirt broker is sometimes more contaminated that the soil that was removed.  Accordingly, at a recent symposium, NJDEP management explained that “clean fill” is a misnomer and that NJDEP needs to move to a concept of appropriate fill depending upon the use.  Whether by regulation or by statute, this year we expect to see continued focus on this issue and proposals to regulate dirt brokers and to ensure that the material reused at a remediation site is sampled and determined to be suitable for that particular site.