NJ Legislature Passes Site Remediation Reform Legislation

March 18, 2009
by BRUCE KATCHER and CHRISTOPHER BALL
MGKF Special Alert

On March 16 the New Jersey Legislature passed the "Site Remediation Reform Act" (SRRA) in an effort to reduce the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP) crushing Site Remediation Program (SRP) case backlog. The SRRA significantly reforms the SRP by requiring that, with limited exceptions, all remediations must use a private licensed site remediation professional (LSRP). LSRPs will take over primary SRP case oversight responsibility except for a limited category of cases in which NJDEP retains direct oversight. The LSRP program phase-in period may extend up to three years, depending on the nature of the case.

NJDEP retains authority to "inspect" all LSRP submittals and is required to perform a more detailed review of at least ten percent of those submittals annually. For most cases, the no further action letter and covenant not to sue will be replaced by a response action outcome (RAO) determination issued by the LSRP.

LSRPs will be licensed by a licensing board to be established under the statute, with NJDEP granted temporary licensing authority until the board is established. The licensing board will review the conduct of LSRPs to ensure compliance with an extensive code of conduct established by the SRRA, and is required to audit annually the conduct and submittals of at least ten percent of all LSRPs.

Additional SRRA reforms include:

  • Significant new limitations on the ability of the party performing a remediation to select the remedial action (e.g., for direct oversight cases, residential and certain sensitive uses and acutely hazardous contaminants);
  • Requirements for NJDEP to adopt mandatory timeframes for initiating and completing remediation activities;
  • A permit program to regulate monitoring and maintenance of engineering and institutional controls; and
  • A potential extension of the statute of limitations applicable to natural resource damages claims brought by the State.

The legislation was passed by a vote of 34-4 in the Senate and 75-2 in the Assembly and will now go to the Governor for signature. Certain of its provisions go into effect immediately upon the Governor's signature and others are subject to a 180 day delay. A brief Q&A document that presents the highlights of the new law and details on how to obtain additional information may be found by linking to our website here.