Linden, N.J. -- BFI Transfer Systems of New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey in U.S. federal district court, charging that state regulators have unconstitutionally blocked a $350 million barge-to-rail project that would take garbage from New York City, barge it to a Linden transfer station, load it on trains and send it to landfills in South Carolina and Georgia.
The suit argues that New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials failed to include the project in Union County, N.J.'s Solid Waste Management Plan so that it could begin the permitting process. The Union County Board of Freeholders already has approved the project three times. The project also has been approved by the Linden city council and the New York city council, which has included the Linden site in its Solid Waste Master Plan.
Defendants in the lawsuit include Robert C. Shinn Jr., former DEP commissioner; Bradley M. Campbell, current DEP commissioner; and several as yet unnamed current and former DEP officials. BFI is seeking preliminary and permanent approval of the plan amendment.
But even if the courts grants BFI an injunction, there is no guarantee that the project would be approved -- only that it would be fairly reviewed. If approved, it would take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete.
Another project problem is looming, too -- there is an ongoing investigation of the relationship between Linden Mayor John T. Gregorio and his son-in-law, an owner of the proposed transfer station.
To date, there have been six proposals to handle New York City garbage that used to go to the now-closed Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, N.Y., but none have been approved. Until a plan is chosen, nearly 1,000 trucks are on the roads transferring trash from New York through New Jersey to landfills in Pennsylvania and Virginia each day.
BFI Transfer Systems of New Jersey and co-plaintiff Browning Ferris Industries of New York Inc. are subsidiaries of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Allied Waste Industries Inc.