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Investigating New Jersey's Requirements for Sweeper Solid Waste Carrier Licensing
by Ranger Kidwell-Ross
New Jersey contractors facing fines along with higher operating costs.
In early April 2019 I received an alert from Michael Nawa, a member of the Advisory Board of the World Sweeping Association. He had learned that significant fines had been levied against at least three New Jersey sweeping contractors. Their violation: operating without a New Jersey license for transporting solid waste, commonly known as an 'A-901.' All of the affected contractors are located in Morris County, New Jersey. The following is what I learned from conducting an in-depth investigation.
I initially spoke with James Deacon from Morris County's Municipal Utilities Authority. Although he passed me on to the state's Department of Environmental Protection's Transportation Oversight Unit in the Solid Waste Division, Deacon did have some information to provide. For one, he volunteered that any waste generated within Morris County was required to be deposited in Morris County. "Sweepings," he said, "are considered to be type 10 municipal solid waste." He also said that "any waste haulers bringing trash to a transfer station in New Jersey need to have an A-901 license and vehicle sticker."
According to one of the affected contractors, Frank Lombardo, principal of Liberty Sweeping, his understanding is that Morris County officials are choosing to apply to sweepers the requirements of the New Jersey Solid Waste Management Act, where Section 7:26-3.2(a2) states: "Any device used for transportation of solid waste shall be registered with the Department as either a solid waste cab, trailer, container, or single-unit vehicle." Further, all haulers of solid waste "must meet the requirements used in the collection and/or transportation of solid waste, and properly, permanently and conspicuously display a current State of New Jersey solid waste decal along with a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection registration number.
"Current solid waste decals must be permanently affixed to the driver side of each solid waste vehicle prior to the transport of solid waste to, from or within the State of New Jersey." Essentially, says Lombardo, Morris County is requiring that every sweeper become registered as a solid waste hauler under New Jersey state law.
TSS Sweeping is another affected industry firm also located in Morris County. Kenny Battiato, a principal with TSS, said for them this process started about five years ago when they received a small fine for transporting garbage bags from one shopping center to another. The authorities wanted the waste left with the generator.
"It was an isolated incident and we didn't think much about it," said Battiato, "until about three years ago when we were hit with 15 tickets, including a substantial fine, for transporting waste without having an A-901 solid waste hauler designation. Although we were actually sitting on an A-901 license from a company that we had sold, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) didn't allow us to just transfer that authorization over to TSS. Now, however, after about three years of negotiations the fine has been dropped to about $15,000 and we think we have it all handled.
"One other thing that has come from this is that NJDEP has made it plain that, ideally, the agency prefers that all solid waste be left at the generators' site. So, no matter what size operation we're sweeping they need to have an onsite dumpster. Initially, they were saying if we swept up debris from any particular location we had to then go dump it before sweeping another customer – even though that's what a waste hauler's license allows you to do.
"And, the requirement to dump each client's waste separately apparently isn't an actual part of state code. However, we hope we will soon have a letter from NJDEP stating the requirement. As we've learned that's what the agency wants, though, we've contacted each of our customers to alert them to get their own dumpster. At this point about 90% of them have done so, with a result that our dumping fees have dropped from $250,000/year to about $30-40k/year. So, if there's any kind of silver lining to all of this, that's it.
"This has cost us a lot of money to deal with and, because we're a fairly good-sized company, we could see it through. The requirement will probably hurt all of the small sweeping companies in the area, though, since I estimate the overall process for us to procure an A-901 will probably end up being between $20,000 and $30,000. We have requested, and we're hoping we can get, a letter from the NJDEQ specifying that generators of solid waste must place a container onsite where the waste can be dumped."
At this point I spoke to Bob Gomez, manager of New Jersey's Bureau of Hazardous Waste Compliance and Enforcement. Gomez says the cost isn't that much for a company to apply for an A-901 license. Although the actual expense depends upon the number key employees making application (i.e., those in a position of authority to hire/fire and manage the money and day to day operations).
The application, he says, includes a $600 fee per key employee (Personal History Disclosure "PHD" review) and a fee for the Business Concern Disclosure "BCD" review (the BCD fee scales up based on a range for the total number of key employees). For example, an applicant with one key employee would pay a fee of $600 (PHD review) plus $635 (BCD review) for a total fee of $1,235 that is required upon submission of the A-901 application. A company with two to three key employees would pay a fee of $1,775 (BCD review) plus $600 per key employee. If the company chose to hire a law firm or consultant to complete the PHDs and BCD, they would incur additional fees beyond what the State charges.
"About half of the 21 counties in NJ have some type of waste flow regulation," said Gomez. "Each county's District Solid Waste Management Plan will identify the solid waste types they regulate and how/where each waste type must be directed to for disposal. Although the A-901 application is not an expensive process, it does take time to get through the criminal background checks on key employees and review of the Personal History Disclosures and Business Concern Disclosure.
The review process can typically take anywhere from nine to twelve months, or longer depending on number of key employees required to file or, for more complex corporate structures, once an administratively complete application package is received, reviewed and a recommendation is made to NJDEP for licensure."
An A-901 license would allow street sweeping companies to transport solid waste into, within, or out of the State of NJ. However, the street sweeping company needs to know what the district solid waste management plan of the county they are working in requires. This will help prevent the company from receiving a waste flow violation for transporting solid waste out of a flow controlled county to continue servicing accounts in other counties.
If the sweeping company is working in a flow-controlled county, the solid waste should be delivered directly to the approved solid waste disposal facility or by depositing the contents of the sweeper into a roll-off container in the lot they have cleaned. If there is no flow control in the county where the A-901 licensed sweeping company is working, then it is not a violation if the partially-filled sweeper crosses county lines to perform other jobs.
The option of a sweeping contractor setting up a screening facility is probably a non-starter due to the current laws and regulatory requirements in New Jersey. Since street sweepings are classified as a solid waste in New Jersey, we contacted Tom Byrne (Tom.Byrne@dep.nj.gov) of the NJDEP's Division of Solid & Hazardous Waste, which oversees the permitting of solid waste facilities in the state.
A sweeping contractor who wants to set up a screening operation, Byrne says, would have to obtain a Solid Waste Facility (SWF) Permit as a transfer station/material recovery facility. All operations are required to be conducted within an enclosed building and would require the installation of an air pollution control system. The permit fee is $ 138,600. This fee is for any size facility whether it is 1 ton per day or 3,000 tons per day. For information regarding permit requirements for a solid waste facility one can review the regulations established at N.J.AC. 7-26-1 in the Waste Management area of the Department's website.
Power sweeping companies that lack an A-901 license still have the ability to sweep a lot. However, the sweeping company must either contract with an A-901 licensed transporter to provide a registered container on the lot to deposit the street sweepings into, or have an agreement with the property owner to contract with an A-901 licensed company to provide the registered container to deposit the street sweepings into. Gomez continues: "After the A-901 license is issued, solid waste transporters are also required to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity (CPCN) because solid waste is regulated as a utility in NJ. Obtaining the CPCN is a much quicker approval process and after the company has the license and certificate they can make application for their solid waste transporter registration, which is a quick application process with a short turnaround time."
Note that if a complaint is received by the New Jersey Bureau of Hazardous Waste Compliance and Enforcement about a company believed to be hauling solid waste without a permit, the complaint will be followed up. Even if a company has applied for the A-901 and is going through the process, that doesn't allow them to haul solid waste in New Jersey. [Any] "company that continues operating without a license, while an applicant for a license, is placing themselves and business at risk because it could have a negative impact on determining their fitness to obtain a license," said Gomez.
I also asked Gomez about the possibility of getting the letter that TSS Sweeping's Kenny Battiato had requested. Gomez said they could not do so because, in fact, that's not the case. Said Gomez, "Generators of solid waste do not have to get an onsite container. Any solid waste generated at their location does, however, have to be removed by a licensed A-901 organization."
Although the enforcement information from Morris County we received that resulted in this article centered on enforcement in just that one NJ county, the fact is this requirement covers all of the state of New Jersey. For more complete information, we invite you to access the PDF of the complete email exchange between WorldSweeper and Bob Gomez. We also offer New Jersey's guidance for street sweeping as a PDF file.
If you have questions or comments about this article, please let us know. If appropriate, we will include them as an addendum below.
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