New Jersey Site Remediation - Key Issues for 2023

January 18, 2023
Bruce S. Katcher, Esq.
MGKF Special Alert - New Jersey Forecast 2023

What was formerly known as the Site Remediation and Waste Management Program underwent a rebranding and reorganization in 2022.  It is now reorganized and known as the Contaminated Site Remediation and Redevelopment Program (CSRRP), emphasizing both the site remediation and brownfields redevelopment aspects of the program.  Responsibility for the solid waste program has been transferred to the Air Quality, Energy and Materials Sustainability Program. CSRRP is headed by recently appointed Acting Assistant Commissioner, David Haymes. 

Contaminants of Emerging Concern
The new year promises to see continued attention to contaminants of emerging concern, especially per- and poly-fluoralkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4 dioxane (as previously reported here and further addressed below.)  NJDEP established interim soil remediation standards for various PFAS in October 2022 and attention to these standards will be important in 2023. Soil and groundwater remediation standards for 1,4 dioxane already existed.

Proposed Rules – SRRA 2.0 and RAPs
Assistant Commissioner Haymes has also announced that his program is planning to issue a new proposed rule in 2023 to incorporate the requirements of the 2019 amendments to the Site Remediation Reform Act (a.k.a. SRRA and summarized here) into the Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites and the Technical Regulations.

That rule proposal is also expected to contain changes to the remedial action permit (RAP) program designed to reduce delays in the issuance of RAPs (a longstanding problem).  This may include the possibility of a new general permit program applicable to a variety of RAPs that are relatively straightforward and routine (e.g., for deed notices) and the use of a single permit, instead of dual permits, for projects where both soil and groundwater permits are needed.  Other process changes mentioned by Haymes that may be implemented without a rule change would include improvements in permit reviews to identify administrative deficiencies early in the process, including application submission through an electronic portal designed to automatically reject certain administratively deficient applications, a new FAQ web section to provide more guidance on common deficiencies, and cross training of permit reviewers so that one person could handle both soil and groundwater issues instead of the current split responsibility.

Possible Changes to Groundwater Quality Criteria
While not, strictly speaking, a planned revision to CSRRP regulations, Kimberly Cenno, Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards indicated at a recent conference that the Division of Water Monitoring and Standards was considering various revisions to the groundwater quality criteria and the assumptions on which they are based.  She indicated that there could be updates to 65 standards including 50 that would be more stringent with seven of those changing by an order of magnitude or more. These criteria serve as the basis for the groundwater remediation standards in the CSRRP.