An appeals court yesterday upheld a state Department of Environmental Protection decision fining a dirt hauler $100,000 for the unlicensed transportation of solid waste.
In a 17-page decision, the court affirmed a ruling by the commissioner of the DEP to impose the penalties against DGRT Stables, Inc., its former president and a consultant to the firm, for disposing of fill at a residential and commercial development in Old Bridge.
The case involves actions that have come under scrutiny in New Jersey after the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) issued scathing reports about unscrupulous operators dumping contaminated fill under the guise of recycling.
In this case, DGRT agreed to supply 2,000 loads of clean fill to a mixed-use commercial and residential development in Old Bridge in April 2013. A month later, the company reached a contract to remove recycled concrete fill from an old demolished warehouse in Jersey City.
The material ended up being used at the Old Bridge development, which the DEP later determined constituted solid waste that had been transported without a license.
When the department imposed the fines against the company, its president, Derrick Greenberg, and Michael D’Angelo, a consultant, appealed the decision to an administrative law court judge, who affirmed the commissioner’s decision.
In their appeal, the defendants argued they had relied on assertions from the owner of the Jersey City site that the soil was acceptable and that they had not intended to transport solid waste. The court was unpersuaded by their arguments.
“However, there was no dispute that the materials transported resulted from the demolition and removal of the warehouse,’’ the court found. “By any of the definitions cited, these materials constituted solid waste as discarded materials from industrial or commercial operations that are deposited on or into the land.’’
The court also noted the material transported benzo (a) pyrene, a human carcinogen, at levels exceeding the DEP standard. It agreed with the DEP commissioner the violations “created the potential for serious harm to the prospective residents and visitors to the site’’ of the development.
In sum, the judges ruled there was nothing capricious, arbitrary or unreasonable about the DEP decision.