Waste haulers now must register for use of Pennsylvania landfills

| 9/17/2002

On behalf of Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary David E. Hess Sept. 13 placed the first waste hauler authorization stickers on Lancaster County Solid Waste Authority trash trucks as part of a new state law.

The stickers allow the state to track waste-haulers to see if they are abiding by the safety and environmental regulations. This tracking system helps the state implement its new Waste Transportation Safety Act (Act 90), which says waste-haulers who don't follow the rules will not be allowed to use the state landfills.

"Before we could only issue tickets to the driver and a summary offense to the waste hauling company," Hess said. "Now, a second violation could lead to a $25,000 fine, and the company may not be allowed to haul waste in the state."

Act 90 of 2002 was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Schweiker June 29. The act requires all municipal and residual waste-haulers using waste disposal and processing facilities in Pennsylvania to obtain authorization to use those facilities from DEP by Dec. 27.

Need for the new legislation became obvious after DEP, PENNDOT and the State Police completed "Operation Clean Sweep," a series of surprise trash-truck inspections at every landfill and major incinerator in the state for eight straight days during May 2001.

"Operation Clean Sweep" identified hundreds of unsafe trash trucks - 86 percent of the trash trucks had safety violations, and more than one-third of the trucks were removed from service as unsafe vehicles. During the operation, more than 40,000 trucks were inspected, resulting in more than 11,000 safety and environmental violations being issued.

The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) has the first written authorization issued in the commonwealth. The authority operates its own fleet of waste-hauling vehicles, including 12 trucks, 20 truck tractors and 64 trailers.

Lancaster County established a collection and transportation program for their facilities in 1973. The program requires all commercial waste-haulers to obtain a license for each of their vehicles, roll-off containers and trailers.

In addition to the Authority's fleet, there are about 70 companies in Lancaster County that haul residential and commercial waste. Another 400 haulers are licensed to haul their own waste to Authority facilities.

Act 90 also has many components to help protect citizens and the environment in Pennsylvania. The provisions include:
1 -- Requiring owners of waste transportation vehicles (trucks registered for more than 17,000 pounds and trailers registered for more than 10,000 pounds) that regularly transport municipal or residual waste to a processing or disposal facility in the commonwealth to obtain written authorization from DEP by Dec. 27;
2 -- Providing DEP with the authority to deny or revoke transporter authorizations, establishes fees and prohibits counties or municipalities from establishing new transporter authorizations or licensing programs after Aug. 29;
3 -- Permitting all existing county or municipal transportation or licensing programs in place prior to Aug. 29 to be implemented at the county or municipality's discretion.
The Waste Transportation Safety Program includes a two-part process. First, current owners of waste transportation vehicles must submit an application, within 120 days after Aug. 29, on a DEP form for an interim authorization.

The application must include a copy of the state registration for each vehicle, evidence of current inspection, current certificate of insurance and a fee of $100 per truck and/or $50 each per truck/trailer combination.

Second, within 60 days of receipt of the fee and complete documentation, the department will either issue interim written authorization, along with a sticker showing the authorization number or deny authorization.

Interim authorizations are valid until final authorizations are issued or denied. After notification from the department, the transporter shall submit documentation of compliance history. Upon evaluation of the compliance history, the department will either issue final written authorization, along with a sticker showing the authorization number, or deny final authorization.

The last day an application can be submitted is Dec. 27. However, it is unlawful for a transporter to operate without an authorization anytime after Dec. 26.

Once an application is submitted, DEP has 60 days to issue or deny an authorization. Therefore, any transporter that submits an application after Oct. 27 runs the risk that it will not receive an authorization by Dec. 27.

Additionally, any transporter that submits an application after Oct. 27 runs the risk that its waste will be not accepted at a municipal or residual waste processing or disposal facility in Pennsylvania after Dec. 26 because it may not have received the required authorization sticker.

The act also provides for criminal penalties, civil penalties, enforcement orders, injunctions, forfeiture of waste transportation vehicles and a restricted account for all fees, fines and penalties paid.

For more information on Act 90 or other waste truck regulations, visit the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us, or call 1-800-346-1932.