New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the state has issued close to 200 tickets following a two-day crackdown on illegal dumping of solid waste that took place February 15-16, 2017. The enforcement was conducted by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York State Police, New York State’s Department of Transportation and the Suffolk County Police.
The law enforcement groups targeted illegal dumping of contaminated construction and demolition debris at disposal sites across Long Island, New York City and the Mid-Hudson Valley of the state. The crackdown led to 28 truck drivers being ticketed and 167 additional tickets issued for various misdemeanors and other serious safety violations of the state’s Environmental Conservation Law.
In announcing the results of the investigation, Governor Cuomo’s office noted that C&D debris can legally contain a mixture of allowable materials such as concrete, asphalt, rock, brick and soil, that can be disposed of at facilities as they do not pose an environmental threat. However, the Governor’s office adds, illegal C&D debris commingles materials such as asbestos, treated lumber, petroleum products, roofing shingles or soil from historically contaminated areas. These non-exempt wastes can contain toxins that result in environmental damage to the ground and water resources, adverse impacts to residents and communities and significant clean-up costs if not disposed of at a facility legally permitted and equipped to handle them.
This illegal debris is often dumped in rural landscapes or farms, or is illegally marketed as "clean fill." Others carry out what authorities have labeled as "scoop and fill" operations, where an excavation is created through illegal sand mining and then quickly filled with illegal C&D debris.
More than 100 environmental conservation officers and other police officers participated in the two-day crackdown. Police identified nine illegal dumping sites during the detail and issued tickets ranging from unlawful disposal of solid waste to operating a solid waste management facility without a permit and allowing illegal emission violations, uncovered debris, leaking materials and overweight loads.
Ten vehicles were put out of service due to serious safety issues.
Governor Cuomo has urged municipalities to make C&D debris management an integral part of their local solid waste management plans. In addition to the crackdown, more enforcement operations are planned for the coming months.
The illegal disposal of contaminated C&D debris has become a significant problem downstate due to a proliferation of development and demolition projects in the metropolitan area. DEC has documented an upswing in the illegal disposal of solid waste on Long Island over the past few years involving the placement of C&D debris and other fill materials at unauthorized sites, which threatens drinking water for nearly eight million residents.