In 2009, in the face of a significant backlog of sites that were stuck in the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) pipeline, the New Jersey Legislature dramatically changed the process of site remediation in the Garden State with the enactment of the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA). The SRRA partially outsourced DEP’s review role by authorizing “private” oversight of cleanups by Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs). On August 23, 2019, Governor Murphy signed new legislation that made further adjustments to the changes wrought by the SRRA. The legislation (L. 2019, c. 263), which sailed through both legislative chambers without a single opposing vote, makes a number of changes to the LSRP program, as well as other changes affecting parties responsible for conducting remediation projects. Amendments Affecting LSRPs Removal of unoccupied structures from list of areas that must be addressed as an “immediate environmental concern.” Expansion of LSRP duties to report immediate environmental concerns and previously unreported discharges. A slight relaxation of licensing requirements for individuals who may have temporarily left the work force for personal reasons. Clarification of prior acts and punishments that will disqualify a person from obtaining an LSRP license. Tightening of LSRPs’ oversight responsibilities to ensure that...
In less than three weeks, the statutory deadline to complete a site-wide remedial investigation (“RI”) for many contaminated sites in New Jersey will pass. Any site for which an RI has not been completed will be subject to direct oversight of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”), which would come with additional costs, less control over the remediation, and other burdens for responsible parties. Accordingly, responsible parties and their Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (“LSRPs”) should do everything in their power to complete an RI by the statutory deadline: May 7, 2016.
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.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has more formally confirmed the scope of the responsibility to address historic pesticide use on commercial and industrial properties: namely that a party need not remediate historic pesticide use unless there is a land use change to residences, schools, child care centers and playgrounds. On June 20, 2014, the NJDEP published an additional notice for Response Action Outcomes, the written determination by a Licensed Site Remediation Professional that a remediation is complete, which specifically permits completion of a remediation without investigation of contamination from historic pesticide use. The notice would only apply to contamination from the application of such pesticides to, for example, a former orchard or farm, but not contamination from a discharge caused by the mixing, manufacturing or other handling of such chemicals. NJDEP approval is not required for an LSRP to use this notice.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) held its 12th Annual Regulatory Update Conference on November 22, 2013. The conference provided brief regulatory updates from a number of NJDEP departments and programs. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) held its 12th Annual Regulatory Update Conference on November 22, 2013. The conference provided brief regulatory updates from a number of NJDEP departments and programs including: The Environmental Management Program; The Site Remediation Program; ; The Bureau of Air Quality Planning; The Office of Environmental Justice; The Bureau of Environmental Evaluation & Risk Assessment; The Emission Statement Program; and The Office of Science.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) recently issued new vapor intrusion screening levels (“VISL”) and related guidelines, which will have an immediate impact on existing remediation sites. The screening levels were updated to reflect the changes in toxicity values and risk-based equations set forth in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (“USEPA”) most recent Regional Screening Level (“RSL”) Tables. NJDEP implemented the new VISL as of January 16, 2013. Parties conducting remediations and their Licensed Site Remediation Professionals will need to analyze how these new screening levels impact their sites.
As companies in the northeast region take advantage of an improving real estate market, in the face of aggressive agency enforcement, and complex environmental programs and policies, the need for environmental counsel to assist with transactions, navigate potential pitfalls, and mitigate future liability, has become essential. In a recent article published by The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, three new Gibbons Directors – William Hatfield, Camille Otero, and David Freeman – discuss the firm’s strategic decision to expand the practice group, the growth of the environmental law market, and how their experience can assist clients in this expanding field.
NJDEP Clarifies Impact of Site Remediation Reform Act on Requirements of Administrative Consent Orders and Remediation Agreements
With full implementation of the Site Remediation Reform Act on the horizon, the New Jersey Department Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently clarified that for parties currently proceeding with remediation under NJDEP oversight pursuant to an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) or Remediation Agreement (RA), such parties will be expected to engage a Licensed Site Remediation Professional no later than May 7, 2012. Any ACO/RA requirements to obtain NJDEP pre-approval of reports and workplans will be held in abeyance. Likewise, any ACO/RA specific timeframes will also be held in abeyance. Instead, responsible parties must meet all regulatory and mandatory timeframes prescribed in applicable rules. However, the ACO/RA will otherwise remain in effect until the remediation is complete or covered by a remedial action permit and parties will be subject to, among other requirements, the remediation funding source requirements and stipulated penalties.
On August 15, 2011, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued proposed Final Rules to implement the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) adopted in May 2009. These rules are intended to be the final implementation step in the phased transition of New Jersey’s site remediation process from NJDEP command and control to private oversight by Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs). Instead of NJDEP overseeing every step of a cleanup, the LSRP, licensed by a 13-member Licensed Site Remediation Professional Board with investigative and disciplinary powers, is responsible for making day-to-day decisions about a clean-up. Certain categories of cleanups remain under NJDEP oversight, such as where the responsible party has a history of non-compliance or has failed to meet mandatory deadlines. The rule proposal appeared in the New Jersey Register on August 15, 2011 and can be viewed online. Comments can be submitted until October 14, 2011.
On the weekend of June 24-26, 2011, the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education (“NJICLE”) in cooperation with the New Jersey State Bar Association (“NJSBA”), and New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association, held its annual Environmental Law Section Forum Weekend (“the Forum”). Taking place in Avalon, New Jersey, the Forum featured three days of seminars covering various hot-button environmental topics including, Funding for Remediating Sites, Vapor Intrusion, the LSRP Program, Non-Governmental Organizations’ Perspectives on Issues and Resolutions, the well-known NJDEP v. Occidental case also referred to as the Lower Passaic River litigation, Climate Change, and rounded out the weekend with two programs on Ethical Issues including Alternative Fee Arrangements and Multi-Party Settlements.