NJDEP Publishes Final Soil Remediation Standards

May 16, 2008
by BRUCE KATCHER
Client Alert Newsletter May 2008

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection ("NJDEP") finalized its long-awaited regulations prescribing cleanup standards for the remediation of contaminated soils in the June 2 New Jersey Register. The new standards will replace NJDEP's soil cleanup criteria ("SCC"). The regulations set final direct contact standards for both residential and non-residential scenarios. The agency refrained from finalizing the impact to groundwater ("IGW") standards at this time and instead will adopt IGW standards on a case-by-case basis. The regulations lower the most stringent cleanup levels for many contaminants, several of which are now set at the practical quantitation limit, meaning that some cleanups may have to meet "non-detect" levels. The regulations also address the application of the new standards to pending cases.

Several important issues are discussed in NJDEP's responses to public comments, including the possibility that closed cases may be reopened, absence of a standard for total petroleum hydrocarbons in the final regulations, availability of guidance for setting alternative remediation standards, application of the standards to dredge material, and NJDEP's possible willingness to evaluate PAH (polyaromatic hydrocarbon) contamination in historic fill in light of regional background conditions. NJDEP promises to address several of these and other issues in future guidance or changes to the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation ("Tech Regs"), the agency's regulations governing cleanup procedures.

A Special Alert on this topic, which provides greater detail, is available here on our web site.