NJDEP Issues Interim Cleanup Guidance for No. 2 Fuel Oil and Diesel Releases

November 16, 2008
by DARRYL BORRELLI
Client Alert Newsletter November 2008

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection ("NJDEP") has established, by guidance, a new direct contact cleanup standard for total petroleum hydrocarbons related to No. 2 fuel oil and diesel releases in soil of 4,800 parts per million ("ppm") as measured by a diesel range organic ("DRO") analytical method, replacing the previous guidance value of 10,000 ppm. The standard is based upon noncarcinogenic health effects at a hazard index of 1. Further, instead of requiring additional contingent analyses for volatile organic compounds ("VOCs") related to such releases, the guidance now requires that 25% of samples exceeding 1,000 ppm be additionally analyzed for base neutral compounds plus 15 tentatively identified compounds (BN+15), a slightly more expensive analytical procedure. Finally, the guidance establishes a standard of 1,700 ppm for No. 2 fuel oil/diesel releases that could potentially affect ecological receptors, with the ability to increase this standard up to a maximum of 4,800 ppm on a site-specific basis.

The new guidance provides a phase-in period such that any Remedial Action Work Plans ("RAWPs") or Remedial Action Reports ("RARs") submitted prior to March 17, 2009, may make use of the 10,000 ppm standard. NJDEP also advises that it is developing a new Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbon ("EPH") methodology that will allow for the development of site-specific cleanup standards for EPH. NJDEP may apply this new methodology to fuel oil/diesel and other petroleum hydrocarbon releases. This change could lead to further reduction of the allowable petroleum hydrocarbon standard in soil. Given the changes and likely additional future changes, clients should consider whether completing cleanups of No. 2 heating oil/diesel releases prior to the March 17, 2009 deadline may prove beneficial.