Unable to keep up with submittals from Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRP) and with the resulting increase in review times, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has recently decided to defer the review of non-Response Action Outcome (RAO) documents until an RAO is submitted. This announcement comes four years into the LSRP program, which as designed, has begun to eliminate the backlog of contaminated sites awaiting attention. However, the very success of the LSRP program has created its own backlog as NJDEP finds itself falling behind in review of submittals.
Under the statute, the NJDEP is required to “inspect all documents and information submitted by a licensed site remediation professional concerning a remediation upon receipt[,]” N.J.S.A. 58:10C-21. However, the NJDEP has stated that the review of non-RAO submissions upon receipt is not necessary or an efficient use of NJDEP personnel. The one important exception noted by the NJDEP is the review of submissions related to receptors, for example, a Receptor Evaluation Form. Protection of receptors continues to be a high priority of the department. Nonetheless, the deferral of review may have unanticipated results.
With fewer document inspections, the regulated community can expect much less feedback from the NJDEP prior to the submission of an RAO. In this regard, an LSRP will have greater autonomy in connection with the oversight of a remediation prior to issuance of the RAO.