Site Remediation Reform Act: How Will the Act Impact the NJDEP’s Voluntary Cleanup Program

October 1st, 2009 | Posted by: Christopher DeGrezia 0| comments:

Site Remediation Reform Act 11SRRA effectively abolishes the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) for responsible parties by 1) creating an affirmative obligation to remediate the discharge of a hazardous substance and 2) requiring remediation activities to be performed in accordance with mandatory remediation time frames and/or expedited site specific time frames.

Prior to the enactment of SRRA, owners and operators of contaminated properties in New Jersey had several potential remedial options, depending upon the circumstances:

  1. wait for an ISRA triggering event to occur before taking any action to remediate a contaminated property;
  2. wait for NJDEP to issue a Spill Act Directive or initiate an enforcement action before taking any action to remediate a contaminated property; or
  3. enroll in the VCP by entering into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with NJDEP to obtain NJDEP oversight of cleanup activities.  Such activities under a MOA could range from conducting a preliminary assessment to performing remedial actions necessary to clean up the site for unrestricted use.  Time frames for completing MOA requirements at VCP sites were negotiated with NJDEP and parties were generally free to remediate contamination on their own schedule, without fear of penalties.

SRRA now makes it clear that owners and operators of contaminated properties have an affirmative duty to remediate discharges of a hazardous substances5 in accordance with mandatory time frames that will be established by NJDEP in new regulations.  Click here to read more about the new SRRA mandatory remediation time frames and expedited site specific time frames.  As a result, responsible parties no longer have the luxury of performing a “voluntary” cleanup on their own terms or schedule.  The flexibility or discretion to negotiate the scope or timing of a remediation will be diminished by mandatory time frames and NJDEP will not issue any new MOAs for site remediation.  If an owner or operator of a contaminated property attempts to continue the practice of waiting for an ISRA trigger or an enforcement action to occur before initiating a remediation, the owner or operator of the contaminated property can be found to be in violation of SRRA and its implementing regulations.  We understand that there will be limited, if any, use by NJDEP of Administrative Consent Orders (ACOs) to require site remediation and parties must move forward with a remediation by means of an LSRP without NJDEP approval.

If you need assistance or have any specific questions, feel free to contact: 

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