New Jersey Site Remediation Program Faces Key Issues in 2022
A variety of issues promise to receive heightened attention under the New Jersey Site Remediation Program (SRP) in 2022.
PFAS and other Emerging Contaminants
There is likely to be a continuing emphasis on addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), in dealing with the remediation of contaminated sites. This applies to ongoing cases where the SRP has emphasized that each site must be evaluated for the presence of CECs to the same extent as other contaminants during the investigatory phases of remediation. With respect to “closed” cases where biennial certifications of engineering and/or institutional control remedy effectiveness are required, that process must also include an evaluation of CECs where that may not have been considered during earlier phases of the case. The NJDEP has published guidance addressing this issue and a list of categories of sites at which such an evaluation is presumptively required.
Environmental justice considerations will probably receive a new emphasis. Although New Jersey’s Environmental Justice (EJ) Law excludes “any authorization or approval necessary to perform a remediation” from the list of permits required to undergo a statutory EJ review, the Governor’s Executive Order #23 requires that “all Executive branch departments and agencies shall consider the issue of Environmental Justice and make evaluations and assessments in accordance with that guidance, to the extent not inconsistent with law.” Therefore, parties conducting remediations in areas meeting the definition of overburdened community under the EJ Law would be advised to at least consider the impacts of their remediation on the community, and, where required, develop inclusive public participation plans.
The NJDEP has embarked on a stakeholder process to address a number of issues that were raised as concerns during the process of amending the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) in 2019 but were put aside to be addressed administratively rather than legislatively. Among the objectives of this initiative will be an update to the remedial action permit (RAP) process to expedite the issuance of RAPs where possible through the creation of a general permit process for the issuance certain routine RAPs.
Finally, a variety of other issues will take on importance during the coming year. Watch for approaching regulatory or mandatory deadlines in May 2022, the application of the deadline extensions granted during the COVID-19 public health emergency that ended on June 4, 2021, the implementation of the NJDEP’s revisions to its Fill Material Guidance issued in late October 2021, and the NJDEP’s less forgiving approach to the submission of deficient documents by LSRPs.