The state Department of Environmental Protection has launched an initiative to support municipalities in combatting illegal dumping.

The 10-month program was spurred by community feedback in what officials are describing as "environmental justice communities," usually poorer or working-class ZIP codes often beset by pollution or contamination.

Through this new project, DEP will loan deterrence equipment and provide training and support to officials in enforcing civil and criminal environmental laws.

Illegal dumping can cost communities millions of dollars each year, which in turn can drive down property values due to safety concerns. It also has untold quality of life impacts, DEP Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Dragon.

Selected communities will receive training and support on enforcement mechanisms to pursue individuals through civil and criminal means. Additionally, communities will be provided with state-of-the-art Q-Star Technology FlashCam deterrent cameras, which  provide the ability to capture illegal activity.

Some municipalities may have house cleanouts. Others may focus on bagged-trash, appliance or construction debris dumping.

Communities participating in the initial launch of the project include Camden, Fairfield, Jersey City, Linden, Newark, Paterson, Salem, Secaucus, Trenton, Vernon and Vineland.

In March, these municipalities will receive illegal dumping enforcement training and equipment training by DEP enforcement staff, the Attorney General's Office and Q-Star Technologies.

"Illegal dumping has been a chronic problem in the Capitol City and we'll never truly achieve environmental justice for our residents unless we do everything we can to make Trenton an inhospitable place for individuals who recklessly disregard our dumping laws," Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora said.

"We are excited to be chosen by NJDEP to participate in the IDP-CAD project to combat illegal dumping in our city," Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said.

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