Site Remediation Reforms Enacted - Licensed Site Remediation Professionals to Oversee Cleanups
On May 7th, Governor Jon S. Corzine signed into law the Site Remediation Reform Act (ACS A-2962), which fundamentally changes the way that contaminated sites will be cleaned up in New Jersey. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will perform limited oversight on the vast majority of cleanups, no longer reviewing all work or issuing No Further Action letters. Instead, private Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) will issue Response Action Outcomes, or “RAOs,” to certify completion of the investigation and cleanup of a contaminated site in accordance with state standards. Based upon a similar program in Massachusetts, DEP’s role will be limited to reviewing screening checklists and auditing the work of LSRPs.
In addition to authorizing LSRPs to approve cleanups, the Reform Act contains other significant changes:
- New affirmative duty and mandatory timeframes to complete cleanups
- Aggressive “Direct Oversight” by DEP of certain categories of sites
- Presumptive remedies for residential sites, schools or child care centers
- Extension of the time for state Natural Resource Damages claims
- Technical Assistance Grants to fund community oversight of cleanups
- Requirements affecting remediation funding sources, grants and loans for cleanups, and redevelopment agreements
Governor Corzine also issued an Executive Order (EO) when he signed the new law, addressing concerns about accountability and transparency in the LSRP program expressed by environmental organizations. The ultimate effect of the EO will depend on how DEP implements its terms.
The new law contains an aggressive time clock to establish the LSRP program. DEP is to develop a temporary licensing program within 90 days. Within six months all new cases will employ an LSRP. A new licensing board will establish a permanent LSRP licensing program within 18 months. Virtually all site remediation cases will use LSRPs within three years. If you are involved in a site remediation project, if you buy, sell or own contaminated property, or if you are an environmental professional, you will need to learn more about the Reform Act and its applicability to your work.
Riker Danzig helped shape many of these site remediation reforms by actively participating in the Legislative Reform Stakeholder Process, the legislative hearings and other meetings in the run up to this important legislation. On June 3rd, the firm will hold its Third Annual Site Remediation Seminar that will focus on the Reform Act. Irene Kropp, DEP Assistant Commissioner, Site Remediation, will be a featured speaker.
If you have questions about the Site Remediation Reform Act, or any other environmental law questions, please contact the Riker Danzig attorney who normally handles your environmental law matters.
This Client Alert should not be construed as legal advice and readers should not act upon this information without consulting counsel familiar with your specific circumstances.