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Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission v. Municipal Sanitary Landfill Authority

Decided: February 13, 1974.

HACKENSACK MEADOWLANDS DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION AND STATE OF NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MUNICIPAL SANITARY LANDFILL AUTHORITY, A JOINT VENTURE OF WILLIAM A. KEEGAN, INC., RECLAMATION AND IMPROVEMENT CO., PETER ROSELLE & SONS, INC., AND DELAWARE SANITARY CO., DEFENDANTS, AND CITY OF YONKERS, NEW YORK, DEFENDANT-INTERVENOR



Schreiber, J.s.c.

Schreiber

[127 NJSuper Page 162] The Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (HMDC) and the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), seek to enjoin the Municipal Sanitary Landfill Authority (MSLA) from accepting for disposal in its landfill site located within

the Hackensack Meadowlands District any solid wastes originating from or collected outside the territorial limits of New Jersey. Both HMDC and DEP had adopted regulations, effective September 1, 1973 and August 31, 1973, respectively, which prohibited such disposal.

An ad interim restraint, consented to by defendant, had been entered pending determination of the request for a permanent injunction. On the return date of the order to show cause defendants answered by challenging the constitutionality of the regulations and the Waste Control Act, N.J.S.A. 13:1I-1 et seq. The hearing was adjourned to allow plaintiffs time to respond to the challenges. In the meantime the City of Yonkers, New York, whose refuse was being deposited on the MSLA site, moved for and was granted leave to intervene as a party defendant. No testimony was taken at the hearing. The parties relied on affidavits and the transcript of proceedings taken before the Hackensack Meadowlands Commission on June 18, 1973.

MSLA has made a three-fold attack. It contends that (1) the Waste Control Act, regulation N.J.A.C. 7:26-1.5 promulgated thereunder, and certain regulations of HMDC, namely, N.J.A.C. 19:7-1.1(g) and (h), are invalid, arbitrary and unreasonable; (2) the procedure followed by DEP in promulgating its rule, N.J.A.C. 7:26-1.5, violated due process of law, and (3) all the above designated regulations and the Waste Control Act must fall because they violate Article 1, Section 8, paragraph 3 (the Commerce Clause) and Article 4, Section 2, (the Privileges and Immunities Clause) of the U.S. Constitution.

I

The Waste Control Act, N.J.S.A. 13:1I-1 to 8, recites that the Legislature found that the disposal of wastes generated or collected outside the State poses a threat to the quality of New Jersey's environment and that the Commissioner of Environmental Protection was empowered to create

regulations prohibiting the "landfill of solid waste" and the "disposal of liquid wastes" within the State which originated or were collected outside New Jersey. The Commissioner adopted Regulation N.J.A.C. 7:26-1.5, effective August 31, 1973, which reads as follows:

Out of State waste

(a) No person engaged in the collection of solid or liquid wastes shall dispose of any solid or liquid wastes which originated or were collected outside the territorial limits of this State in sanitary landfills in the Hackensack Meadowlands District.

(b) No person owning or operating a sanitary landfill within the Hackensack Meadowlands District shall accept for disposal in such sanitary landfill any solid or liquid wastes which originated or were collected outside the territorial limits of this State.

Defendant contends that there is no basis for the Legislature's findings, that the regulation is invalid in the absence of a showing of a causal relationship between banning out-of-state garbage in New Jersey and a threat to its environment, and that the regulation is overly broad by banning all wastes. The statute and the administrative regulations are presumptively valid. Harvey v. Essex County Board of Freeholders, 30 N.J. 381 (1959); Burton v. Sills, 53 N.J. 86 (1968); State v. Profaci, 56 N.J. 346 (1970). Since one can reasonably and readily conceive of facts which would support the Legislature's findings and the Commissioner's regulations, the onus is on defendant to establish that the Legislature's and Commissioner's actions are arbitrary. Consolidation Coal Co. v. Kandle, 105 N.J. Super. 104 (App. Div. 1969), aff'd 54 N.J. 11 (1969); Municipal Sanitary Landfill Authority v. Hackensack Meadowlands Development Comm'n, 120 N.J. Super. 118 (App. Div. 1972); Borden's Farm Products Co., Inc. v. Baldwin, 293 U.S. 194, 55 S. Ct. 187, 79 L. Ed. 281 (1934). Defendant's proof consisted of an affidavit of an engineer, Dennis L. Backus, and the transcript of proceedings before the Hackensack Meadowlands Commission held on June 18, 1973 with respect to its proposed regulations. The affidavit asserts that quantities of solid

wastes are used for construction purposes and that therefore a complete ban on disposal of out-of-state solid wastes is inappropriate. This conclusion does not necessarily follow because no reference is made to the amount of New Jersey refuse which is being used for landfill purposes, the limited amount of area available, and the environmental and public health impacts involved. Further, an affidavit of Lino Pereira, the Principal Environmental Engineer of DEP, asserts that sanitary landfills "present a pollution danger because they do not conserve or recover resources but bury them, and because they severely limit the future use of the land on which they are located." Additionally, he avers that sanitary landfills present a unique fire problem. An affidavit of Bernhard V. Lind, Acting Chief of the Bureau of Solid Waste Management in the DEP, asserts that of the 55,000 tons per week of solid waste being disposed of in the Hackensack Meadowlands District, 10,000 tons originated outside New Jersey and there was an acute shortage of remaining landfill life located there. In view of all the foregoing, it is obvious that MSLA has not met its burden.

The same type of attack has been made upon regulations N.J.A.C. 19:7-1.1(g) and (h) of the HMDC. These regulations read as follows:

19:7-1.1(g). No solid waste originating or collected outside of the territorial jurisdiction of New Jersey shall be disposed of or treated within the Hackensack Meadowlands District. No sanitary landfill operator shall accept for disposal, at a sanitary landfill within the Hackensack Meadowlands District, any solid waste originating or collected outside of the territorial limits of New Jersey.

19:7-1.1(h). All operators of sanitary landfills within the Hackensack Meadowlands District shall submit to the Commission, together with their applications, as provided in Sections 3 and 4 of this subchapter, a certification stating that no solid waste originating or collected outside of the ...


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