Governor Signs Bill Extending A-901 Licensing Deadline for Dirty Dirt Law

Cole Schotz
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Cole Schotz

New Jersey has extended the deadline for businesses engaged in “soil and fill recycling services” to comply with key provisions of N.J.S.A. 13:1E-127, et seq., which was enacted on January 21, 2020 and is known as the ‘Dirty Dirt Law.’  The law requires businesses engaged in “soil and fill recycling services” to register as such and apply for the very strict and difficult-to-obtain A-901 license which was previously applicable only to waste haulers. Following confusion and controversy over the applicability of the Dirty Dirt Law, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill A4255 on July 5, 2022, extending the deadline for businesses to apply for the A-901 license.

The new deadline to apply for an A-901 license is no later than 30 days after the NJDEP adopts rules and regulations for the Dirty Dirt Law, which the NJDEP must implement by July 5, 2023. In a July 8, 2022 Compliance Advisory Update, NJDEP has taken the position that this extension of time applies only to businesses that registered in compliance with the law by filing a Soil and Fill Recycling Registration Form by July 14, 2022.  Businesses that failed to register by July 14, are ineligible for the extension and are required to cease regulated activities until they have filed a Soil and Fill Recycling Registration Form and an A-901 License Application.

New Jersey initially required A-901 licenses for waste haulers in an effort to counter the influence of organized crime in the industry, and the A-901 application process requires detailed information and background checks.  The Dirty Dirt Law extended this licensing requirement to businesses engaged in “soil and fill recycling services,” including “the collection, transportation, processing, brokering, storage, purchase, sale or disposition, or any combination thereof, of soil and fill recyclable materials.”

The law also expanded the definition of regulated fill brokers, to include persons engaged in the “provision of soil and fill recycling services” for direct or indirect compensation. The NJDEP has taken the position that Licensed Site Remediation Professionals and Certified Subsurface Evaluators who are remediating a contaminated site are exempt from the law’s definition of broker. However, during stakeholder meetings, the NJDEP has left open the possibility that environmental consultants, general contractors, and even developers may be considered fill brokers and be required to obtain A-901 licenses. The newly regulated community hopes that the regulations required to be promulgated by the NJDEP pursuant to Bill A4255 will clarify the issues raised during the stakeholder meetings.

Although the main objective of the Dirty Dirt Law is to prevent unscrupulous operators from covert dumping and sham recycling of contaminated soil and fill materials, the implementation of the law (so far) is incredibly broad in scope and has the potential to subject a wide range of businesses to stringent licensing requirements that not all businesses can meet. Registration requirements are already in effect. Potentially affected businesses must therefore remain attentive to developments and understand how the law applies to their operations.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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