A new Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) was signed into law on May 7th, 2009 by NJ Governor Jon Corzine. The SRAA places the primary oversight responsibility for the majority of remediations into the hands of environmental consultants (such as REPSG) who will need to become Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) by a newly formed licensing board, thereby privatizing the clean-up process and streamlining the NJDEP’s oversight process. Important portions of the SRRA are detailed below:
- The NJDEP will issue temporary licenses until such a time as the LSRP board has been established and its regulations developed;
- With limited exception, all remediations must use an LSRP (subject to a three year phase-in period, depending on the nature of the case);
- The LSRPs will essentially assume the NJDEP’s SRP oversight and closure authority for most cases; however, the NJDEP will retain primary oversight of certain categories of cases;
- Some new limitations will be imposed on the selection of the remedial action to be used for sites with certain sensitive land uses (such as residential or educational areas) and for direct oversight cases;
- Mandatory timeframes for initiating and completing various remediation activities will be established by the NJDEP;
- A permitting program for the monitoring and maintenance of engineering and institutional controls will be established; and
- The statute of limitations for claims by the State for natural resource damages associated with many sites will be extended.
Accompanying the SRRA, Governor Corzine issued an Executive Order which requires the NJDEP to annually file reports on LSRP program progress. Additionally, the order requires that all documents submitted to the Department by LSRPs be made available on the Internet.
The Executive Order also requires the Department to increase its oversight of any site containing groundwater contamination above remediation standards, or for sites that may be used for residential or educational purposes. The Executive Order also requires the auditing (by the NJDEP) of case documents submitted by all LSRPs during the next 2 years; with the SRRA only requiring audits of at least 10% of all LSRP submittals completed annually. This is meant to help insulate “an LSRP’s professional judgment from economic pressures to the maximum extent practicable;” allowing for the minimization of the role of cost as a factor in the remedy selection process.
Set up for the temporary licensing program for LSRPs is required to be completed by the Department within a period of 90 days; with the development of interim program rules to be completed within 6 months, prior to the formal promulgation of the SRRA’s regulations.