This is an important legal development for any company that is cleaning up an old contaminated site in New Jersey and requires more time to complete the remedial investigation.
On January 17, 2014, Governor Christie signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey Site Remediation Reform Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10C-1, et seq. (“SRRA”), that provides some potential relief for companies facing an upcoming May 7, 2014 deadline to complete the remedial investigation (“RI”) of contaminated sites. The law grants a two-year extension, provided certain important conditions are met, including the establishment of a remediation funding source or a remediation trust fund. Applicants who seek the extension must apply by March 7, 2014.
By way of background, the SRRA’s May 7, 2014 RI deadline applies to sites on which the contamination was first discovered on or prior to May 7, 1999. Failure to meet the deadline (or to qualify for this newly enacted exception) places a site under the direct oversight of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) – an outcome that remediating parties seek to avoid because, for example, they lose control of the remediation and must establish a remediation trust fund for the entire cost of the remediation.
With the newly enacted exception, remediating parties can qualify for the two-year extension if they can certify that:
- A New Jersey licensed site remediation professional (“LSRP”) has been retained to conduct the site remediation.
- All applicable mandatory timeframes have been met. These mandatory timeframes establish deadlines for the completion of key phases of site remediation and are codified in the Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (“ARRCS”) at N.J.A.C. 7:26C-3.3.
- Technically complete submissions have been made, where applicable, for (a) the initial receptor evaluation; (b) the immediate environmental concern source control report; (c) the light non-aqueous phase liquid interim remedial measure report; (d) the preliminary assessment report; and (e) the site investigation report.
- A remediation funding source, or a remediation trust fund to cover the costs of the remedial investigation, has been established.
- All NJDEP oversight costs and annual fees have been paid.
The NJDEP urges parties to act promptly, especially considering the imminent application deadline and the time required to secure the remediation trust fund instrument, if needed.
There are also provisions in the new law that allow for an extension of the May 7 RI deadline for reasons related to delays in obtaining State funding from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund.
The NJDEP is in the process of drafting forms and guidance to assist the regulated community, and intends to post this information on its website continually over the next few weeks.