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(12/P21) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today announced that work has begun to remove approximately 40,000 cubic yards of fill dirt that was placed illegally within the flood zone of the Raritan River in Bound Brook, Somerset County.

The removal of the fill dirt is the result of negotiations between Brook Industrial Park and DEP's Compliance and Enforcement program. The negotiated agreement followed a Superior Court ruling in April 2011 that found Brook Industrial Park, its owner James G. Schleck, and its property manager, Richard Dobrzynski, in violation of the state's Flood Hazard Area Control Act for allowing the fill to be deposited at the site by Arthur Fletcher, Jr. and his company, G&A Holdings, LLC.  

"Our message is simple: Mountains of illegally placed dirt such as this one in Bound Brook are not going to be tolerated any longer," Commissioner Martin said. "The DEP has been taking strong and decisive action, including seeking to incarcerate those responsible for these piles if necessary, to protect the health and safety of our communities. Our inspectors will closely monitor the removal of this dirt to ensure it is done safely and thoroughly."

"I commend the DEP on their steadfast diligence in this matter," said Bound Brook Mayor Carey Pilato. "Moving these dirt piles could not come a day too soon.  This dirt is located in a flood hazard area and near many homes, families, and businesses. We welcome this action and believe our entire town will celebrate when these piles are completely removed."

The fill dirt at the Brook Industrial Park, which contains slightly elevated levels of a hydrocarbon known as benzo(a)pyrene, will be moved to the former Nuodex Corp. site in Fords, Woodbridge Township, where it will be used as grading material in the redevelopment of the site. This site is part of the Keasbey Redevelopment Area brownfields redevelopment project, and is authorized to accept minimally contaminated fill, such as the Brook Industrial Park material, under strict DEP oversight.  

The DEP is working with Woodbridge to clean up contamination at former industrial properties and develop the area as a gas-fired power plant and eco-park that will allow public access to the Raritan River and associated wetlands. The township is also developing a resource-recovery park for recycling, compost processing and other resource reuse.

As a result of an investigation, the Attorney General's Office in 2009, on behalf of the DEP, filed a lawsuit in Superior Court, Somerset County, seeking a court order directing Brook Industrial Park, and Schleck, Dobrzynksi and Fletcher to remove the illegal fill material.

The dirt posed a serious threat to obstruct and restrict the flow of the river during flooding events. Runoff from the exposed dirt also threatened to obstruct the Raritan by carrying silt into the river.

The court subsequently issued an injunction against al the defendants ordering them to provide the DEP with a plan for removal of the fill.

During the ensuing months, principles in the industrial park presented various options for removal of the dirt but none ever came to fruition. Last year, the Attorney General's Office and DEP obtained summary judgment against the Brook Industrial Park defendants and sought an order to incarcerate Arthur Fletcher Jr., operations vice president for G&A Holdings, for failing to comply with numerous Superior Court orders to clean up the property. Fletcher Jr. admitted to DEP investigators that he was directly responsible for bringing the fill to the site.