TRENTON – The Senate Transportation Committee today approved SR-99, sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono and Ellen Karcher that calls upon Congress to pass the “Clean Railroads Act of 2007” which gives state and local authorities a say in regulating trash transfer stations located on railroad property.
“Railroad corporations have been able to get around state and local health and environmental regulations by exploiting a loophole in federal law,” said Senator Buono. “Congress needs to move to end this loophole so that our communities are not subjected to these health and safety hazards.”
“These trash transfer sites are universally panned, yet our local leaders are powerless to stop them from coming to our communities,” added Senator Karcher, D-Mercer and Monmouth. “These sites are downright dangerous for those living in the area and it’s time that we had the power to do something about it.”
The resolution would memorialize Congress to enact the “Clean Railroads Act of 2007” which removes the authority to regulate solid waste management facilities located on railroad property from the federal Surface Transportation Board and transfers it to state and local authorities. The bill would require trash transfer sites located on railroad property in New Jersey to conform to state and local laws.
According to Senator Karcher, a developer has proposed building a trash transfer facility in Freehold Township, replacing a tract of open space in the municipality with a temporary garbage dump, as construction debris awaits to be transported from building sites to established landfills.
“The proposed trash transfer facility in Freehold Township is in the midst of a large, suburban residential community,” said Senator Karcher. “This is not a case of a ‘not-in-my-backyard’ protest, since no backyard should have to deal with such a site. We’re asking Congress to step up, and realize the needs of local property owners who have to live with the impact of trash transfer sites next door.”
Senator Buono noted that, due to federal deregulation aimed to help the nation’s ailing and aging railway infrastructure, local zoning and State regulation can be superseded whenever developers propose trash transfer facilities along an otherwise-unused rail corridor.
“We’re not looking to regulate the commercial aspects of these sites – that’s clearly the purview of the federal government. But these companies should not be given a free pass on those regulations which work to make sure that our neighborhoods remain safe and clean and that our residents stay healthy,” explained Senator Buono.
The resolution passed the Committee by a vote of 5-0 and now goes to the full Senate for their approval.