By a vote of 29 to 10, the full Senate on Thursday granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assemblymen Paul Moriarty and Gilbert “Whip” Wilson to boost oversight of hazardous materials coming into South Jersey’s ports and roadways.
The measure (S-1816/A-2763), which was approved last week by the full Assembly, would grant police officers of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) the power to inspect hazardous materials carriers and cargoes.
“There is no such thing as being too vigilant in this day and age,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “DRPA police are already trained in this specialty, so it seems counterintuitive not to grant them the authority to oversee potentially hazardous materials coming into our waters.”
Under current law, only members of the State Police, police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and specially designed State Department of Transportation and state Department of Environmental Protection personnel are authorized to undertake such inspections.
“Having an extra set of eyes and ears inspecting our cargo makes practical sense, especially when it comes to DRPA police who specialize in guarding our waterways and bridges,” said Wilson (D-Camden). “This should give residents and businesses greater peace of mind.”
The sponsors noted that the police officers of the DRPA have been trained to perform such inspections and are knowledgeable in the federal regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials. In the State of Pennsylvania, DRPA police officers are authorized to exercise these inspection and enforcement powers.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.