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Environmental Law Blog

Categories: Environmental Regulatory Compliance

NJDEP Notification Requirements Remain – Despite COVID-19 Concerns

March 26, 2020

Last week the NJDEP issued a Compliance Advisory reminding the regulated community that, despite the COVID-19 concerns, all of the requirements to notify NJDEP remain in effect.

The reason for the reminder is so that the regulated community continues to be diligent in their efforts to notify NJDEP in accordance with applicable environmental statutes, rules and their operating permits. As these are unpredictable times, there could be operational disruptions, shutdowns or other failures that unintentionally cause permit exceedances or additional concerns that may require notification to NJDEP, such as spills or discharges of hazardous substances. These notifications are critical to inform NJDEP as well as other specified governmental agencies about potential impacts to the environment and human health and safety.

As such, there is no reprieve to notify NJDEP if notification obligations are triggered by circumstances, whether or not a true emergency exists. NJDEP has indicated that they may pursue enforcement action and penalties against those entities that fail to comply with the NJDEP mandated notification requirements. Although it is unclear how aggressive NJDEP will be in enforcing these notification requirements, it would be prudent to continue to effectively monitor your business’s reporting and notification obligations during this chaotic time. If you need assistance in evaluating whether a reporting obligation exists for your business, please feel free to reach out to one of our environmental attorneys.

Attorney: Douglas Eilender
Related Practice: Environmental Law
Category: Environmental Liability, Environmental Remediation, Real Estate Development, Environmental Regulatory Compliance, Contaminated Property Transactions, Environmentally Sensitive Businesses

New Jersey DEP Announces Registration Deadline For Companies Whose Operations Involve Soil and Fill Recyclable Material

February 28, 2020

Businesses conducting soil and fill recyclable material services that do not already possess an A-901 license have until April 20, 2020 to register with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as a first step to comply with a newly enacted licensing law requiring greater oversight of those activities, DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today.  An A-901 license is issued by the state after the Attorney General's Office, New Jersey State Police and the DEP review the application filed by the business that is designed to demonstrate that the business is not involved with organized crime. 

Governor Phil Murphy signed the law - known as the "Dirty Dirt Bill" on Jan. 21, expanding the DEP's oversight of companies that engage in, or provide, soil and fill recycling services including collection, transportation, processing, brokering, storage, purchase, sale or disposition of soil and fill recyclable materials.

Commissioner McCabe said that now “the DEP and our local partners are in a better position to take action to address problematic fill material and companies engaged in these activities.  These new tools will empower the state and local governments to ensure that the soil and fill brought into our communities is clean and safe, while helping us defend against illegal dumping of soil and fill."

The law also requires affected companies that do not already possess an A-901 license to submit an application and a disclosure statement to the Attorney General's Office detailing their work with soil and fill material in order to receive a soil and fill recycling license for operations in New Jersey by Oct. 19, 2020.  Businesses that do not register by the April 20, 2020 deadline or businesses that apply for a license thereafter and do not meet the license review requirements will no longer be allowed to perform soil or fill recycling services work in New Jersey.

The part of the law most favorable to businesses allows those that register to continue their services while awaiting a license. Those who apply for a  license after the deadline will have to wait for the license before continuing soil and fill recycling services.

The law firm of Mandelbaum Barrett has experience assisting businesses with obtaining the licenses and approvals from the DEP, including A-901 licenses.  

Attorney: Gordon Duus
Related Practice: Environmental Law
Category: Environmental Regulatory Compliance, Environmentally Sensitive Businesses, Real Estate Development

The New Jersey Cleanup Deadline Is Fast-Approaching

March 14, 2019

New Jersey’s Site Remediation Reform Act (“SRRA”), enacted in March 2009, was intended to “speed up the cleanup process” of environmental contamination cases, and “to allow for quicker case completion.”

To achieve this purpose, the SRRA authorized the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) to establish mandatory timeframes for all phases of environmental investigations and cleanups.”

For sites that involve a discharge detected prior to May 7, 1999 (10 years before the SRRA’s enactment), the initial deadline by which to complete the Remedial Site Investigation was May 7, 2014.  That deadline was subsequently amended and extended by two years, provided that the "responsible person" (i.e., the private party who ‘discharged’ the contaminants, or who was “in any way responsible" for the discharge) applied to the NJDEP for an extension by March 7, 2014.

Responsible persons (a) who did not obtain an NJDEP extension, or (b) who completed the Remedial Investigation, including the submission of a Remedial Investigation Report, on or before May 7, 2014, must complete the remedial action by May 7, 2019.  This regulatory deadline is set forth in New Jersey’s Technical Requirements for Site Remediation at N.J.A.C. 7:26E-5.8(b).

Failure to meet the remedial action deadline may subject the site to Direct Oversight by the NJDEP and the requirements set forth in N.J.S.A. 58:10C-27(a)(2) and N.J.A.C. 7:26C-14.1, et seq.  In short, under Direct Oversight, the licensed site remediation professional (“LSRP”) program, established by SRRA, is supplanted and the NJDEP resumes traditional (pre-SRRA) oversight. As a further consequence, the responsible person loses control over the remedial action options, timeline, and funding.  Instead, the NJDEP dictates the remedial action for the site, and NJDEP approval will be required for each document submission and cost expenditure.  Further, the responsible party under Direct Oversight must establish a remediation trust fund in the full amount of the estimated remedial action and implement an NJDEP-approved “public participation plan” to solicit public comments regarding the remediation and proposed solutions.

On September 20, 2018, the NJDEP clarified what constitutes completion of the remedial action to satisfy the May 7, 2019 deadline.  The NJDEP was unequivocal: “the issuance of a Response Action Outcome (“RAO”) is required to meet the remedial action regulatory timeframe….”

For sites that require institutional or engineering controls to complete its remedial action, it is necessary to obtain one or two remedial action permits (a "RAP") from the NJDEP before an RAO is issued. The NJDEP recommends that RAP applications be submitted at least 90 days prior to the May 7, 2019 deadline (by February 6, 2019) to give the NJDEP sufficient time for review.  Once an application is submitted, the NJDEP advises that if the responsible person does not receive the permit requested or a response, the responsible person should submit a request for an extension no later than 30 days prior to the May 7, 2019 deadline (by April 5, 2019) to ensure compliance.  Certainly, the NJDEP may consider your compliance with this request-deadline in determining whether to grant such extension.

Responsible persons who are subject to the May 7, 2019 deadline that require a RAP to complete their remedial actions, should plan to apply for one sufficiently in advance to receive it and to have a RAO in hand on or before May 7, 2019.  Responsible parties who are concerned about meeting this deadline should apply for an extension at least 30 days prior to May 7, 2019 (on or before April 5, 2019).

Mandelbaum Barrett’s Environmental Law Department welcomes the opportunity to assess your SRRA regulatory compliance and to assist you with your environmental counseling and litigation needs.

Attorney: Lauren Topelsohn
Related Practice: Environmental Law
Category: Environmental Remediation, Environmental Regulatory Compliance