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NJDEP May Extend Statutory Deadlines For Contaminated Site Cleanup Investigation

Under New Jersey’s 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA), parties that have been remediating sites since May 1999 (or before), are required to complete the remedial investigation (RI) phase of the site cleanup by May 7, 2014. Failing to complete the investigation by the May 2014 deadline would permit the NJDEP to take direct oversight of the cleanup and require the responsible party to establish a fund for the projected amount of the full cleanup.

On Tuesday, Governor Christie signed  A-4543/S-3075, legislation that authorizes the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to extend the statutory deadline for remedial investigations by two years. This extension has the potential to avoid the need for Direct Oversight by the NJDEP.

To qualify for the extension, the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) on record must submit a form to the NJDEP. The form will verify that the person responsible for conducting the remediation has met certain requirements, which include, but are not limited to:

  • retaining an LSRP for the applicable remedial phase
  • meeting applicable deadlines at the time of certification
  • completing preliminary assessment and site investigation (PA/SI) reports, initial receptor evaluations
  • if applicable, completing an immediate environmental concern (IEC) report and/or light non non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) interim remedial measure control report
  • establishing a remediation funding source or remediation trust fund, as necessary
  • paying any undisputed NJDEP oversight costs, annual remediation fees, or remediation funding source surcharges

The trust fund requirement is perhaps the greatest drawback of seeking an extension.  This means that a responsible party seeking extension must establish a fund in the amount suspected to be necessary to complete the RI phase. Funding the projected RI cost would of course be less than funding the full remediation as required when a site comes under direct NJDEP oversight, but it may nevertheless be  more funding than a responsible party can post at one time.

In order to qualify for the extension until May 7, 2016, the LSRP must certify that the responsible party has met the above requirements by submitting a form to NJDEP by March 7, 2014. NJDEP is in the process of finalizing the extension form.

The team of environmental attorneys at Lieberman & Blecher are well versed in the process and legalities of site remediation. Our firm will be following this development and the impact that the extension legislation will have on our clients, their properties, and site cleanup obligations.

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