In the latest effort to make environmental-cleanup requirements in New Jersey more user-friendly, the state legislature has sent to Governor Corzine the Site Remediation Reform and Licensed Site Professional Act, which would privatize review and approval of routine cleanups.

The measure, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the Senate and General Assembly, would enable owners and developers of contaminated properties to retain qualified environmental consulting firms to certify that cleanups meet or exceed cleanup requirements under the New Jersey Technical Requirements for Site Remediation. The idea is that these "Licensed Site Remediation Professionals" (LSRPs) would help alleviate the regulatory backlogs at the understaffed and overwhelmed New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which currently oversees 20,000 active cleanup cases.

The program would mimic those in Connecticut and Massachusetts, where the state regulatory agencies typically handle only the most significantly contaminated sites. While LSRPs there are subject to licensing and insurance requirements, it is our experience that their work at routine sites receives little oversight from the states' environmental agencies. The bill maintains NJDEP's authority to step into the process if necessary, but contemplates that LSRPs will make the majority of the site remediation decisions subject to an audit program. The program will  be administered by NJDEP and will periodically will take a random look at LSRPs' work product. As a further aid to move cleanups through the system in a more efficient fashion, the bill also calls for NJDEP to identify presumptive remedies for routine contamination issues, providing welcome regulatory regularity.

Those anxious to get an LSRP engaged should be on notice that if the Governor signs the bill into law, as he is expected to do, rules and regulations governing the licensing and oversight of LSRPs would have to be promulgated. It will take nine to 12 months to propose rules and longer to respond to comments on the proposed rules from the regulated community, according to the NJDEP Web site. In the meantime, here are some highlights of the bill:

1. It provides for a Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board, comprising public and private site remediation experts. The board would oversee issues relating to LSRP licensing, including adopting rules and regulations concerning professional responsibilities and ensuring that LSRP site remediation decisions are in accordance with applicable law. 

2. LSRPs would be required to meet minimum criteria, as well as pass an examination, to be licensed. There would also be continuing education requirements.

3. NJDEP would be required to directly oversee a cleanup where a responsible party has a history of noncompliance or has seriously delayed in remediating a site. In such a case, familiar requirements would kick in, including that the responsible party establish a remediation trust fund and implement a public participation program soliciting comment on the site remediation.

4. Upon completion of cleanup overseen by an LSRP, the LSRP would issue a "response action outcome" and file it with NJDEP. NJDEP may conduct further review of the remediation under certain circumstances, such as if NJDEP suspects the LSRP departed from technical regulations, or NJDEP determines that the property poses a significant detrimental impact on public health, safety, or the environment. Upon receipt of a "response action outcome," a responsible party shall be deemed to have a covenant not to sue.

5. The legislation enables the client and the LSRP to operate in a somewhat confidential relationship, but provisions require the LSRP to be responsive to the state's interest through several notification provisions that require, among other things, that the LSRP report clients who deviate from the remedial-action work plan or other remediation report developed by the LSRP.

6. A LSRP cannot be an employee of the person responsible for conducting the remediation.

7. A new permitting program would be created to address operation and maintenance of post-remediation engineering and institutional controls.

If you have any questions regarding this new legislation, please contact Harry Weiss at 215.864.8129 or weiss@ballardspahr.com.


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