New Milestone Reached in Reform of Contaminated Site Cleanup System (USA)
Today marks a milestone in the state’s transition to a new, clear and streamlined approach to the cleanup of contaminated sites – the deadline for those responsible to clean up these sites to enroll in the Licensed Site Remediation Professional Program.
The LSRP program more efficiently deals with cleanups, many of which have languished for too long, better protect public health, and help generate opportunities for redevelopment projects that will help the economy and boost local tax revenues.
“Protecting our communities by cleaning up contaminated sites is a top environmental priority of the Christie Administration,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. “Through this new system, investigations and cleanups will take place much more quickly with no compromise whatsoever to our tough cleanup standards. In fact, this program sets the bar even higher by placing greater expectations and demands on responsible parties to get the job done in a timely manner.”
The Site Remediation Reform Act of 2009 established the Licensed Site Remediation Professional Program as the cornerstone of a fundamental overhaul of the state’s site remediation system, which had proven slow and unwieldy.
Under the new system, highly qualified environmental consultants known as Licensed Site Remediation Professionals, or LSRPs, carry out site remediation work under strict standards established by DEP.
The DEP has established the Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board to set the high standards by which LSRPs are expected to perform, as well as to investigate and take disciplinary action – including fines, license suspension, or license revocation – against any LSRP who does not perform to those standards.
“The LSRP program is allowing us to refocus our resources on sites that represent the highest potential risk to human health and the environment,” said David Sweeney, Assistant Commissioner for Site Remediation. “We have already seen improved progress in our efforts to expedite cleanups during the transition period and fully expect that trend to continue.”
Over the last three years, as the program was phased in, LSRPS closed some 1,200 cases.
“Today marks a critical milestone for this program,” added Joann Held, a member of the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education who represents the environmental community on the Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board. “With qualified LSRPs directing cleanup of contaminated sites and a legislatively driven obligation to remediate, we are moving toward greatly reducing the number of contaminated sites in the state.”
The Site Remediation Reform Act establishes a stringent cleanup process with new requirements and expectations for cleanup work that did not exist under previous laws. Key provisions include:
– Mandatory time frames for the completion of various phases of investigation and cleanup work
– Enabling the DEP to order cleanup remedies when those responsible for contaminated properties are deemed to be recalcitrant for failing to take action
– Allowing the DEP to reject cleanup remedies that would leave a property unsuitable for redevelopment or recreational uses
– Establishing presumptive cleanup remedies whenever a site is proposed to be redeveloped for residential units, schools or day care facilities.
Of the state’s nearly 15,000 contaminated sites, about 6,000 will not need to enter the LSRP program. These include residential underground heating oil tank cases that are specifically exempted by the Site Remediation Reform Act, cases that are in long-term monitoring, federal-lead cleanups, and DEP publicly funded cases.
Of the 9,000 remaining cases, 5,000 cases as of last week had been enrolled in the LSRP program as required by the law. The DEP will be tabulating additional enrollments as they come in. Cases enrolled in the program are now poised to move along more quickly and efficiently through the cleanup process.
The DEP will evaluate the remaining cases for further action, and expects that a large number will involve sites for which no viable responsible party exists or can be identified. Responsible parties who are required by the law to hire LSRPs but have not done so face the prospect of direct DEP oversight, which entails a much greater level of DEP decision making and involvement than under the previous case manager system.
Responsible parties under direct oversight will also be required to establish a Remediation Trust Fund to pay for the cleanup approach that is directed by the DEP.
“Today’s deadline should not come as a surprise to any responsible parties,” Assistant Commissioner Sweeney said. “The DEP has engaged in extensive outreach, including directly contacting identified responsible parties with information leading up to today’s deadline. We will now evaluate these cases to determine how to proceed, fully expecting these responsible parties to comply with the law. It is in their best interest to do so immediately.”
Dredging Today Staff, May 8, 2012;