Legislation signed into law by Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker last week will give the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) new enforcement tools to crack down on waste haulers who operate unsafe or polluting trash trucks, according to DEP secretary David E. Hess.

Hess said all major trash haulers will be required to have DEP approval to operate in Pennsylvania and pay fees to support trash-truck inspections.

"If they don't comply with our safety and environmental regulations, we can prevent them from ever hauling waste in our state again," Hess said.

Within 120 days, any transporter hauling waste with vehicles rated over 17,000 lbs. GVW or trailers rated for gross weights over 10,000 lbs. must apply to DEP for a written waste hauler authorization. Waste transporters must pay an annual fee of $100 per truck, or, in the case of a combination, $50 per truck tractor and $50 per trailer, to support state trash truck inspection programs.

The state DEP is required to review the compliance history of haulers to determine if they have complied with safety and environmental regulations. DEP is authorized to withhold approval to operate in Pennsylvania if the hauler is found not to comply or has no ability or intention to comply.

Also, no landfill or municipal or residual waste processing or disposal facility can accept waste from a truck without a current authorization sticker from DEP.

Operation Cleansweep, a joint DEP, state police and state DOT trash-truck inspection effort prompted the legislation. Last year, Operation Cleansweep found 11,000 safety and environmental violations in waste trucks and imposed penalties of more than $2 million on waste haulers.