Understanding New Jersey’s New Remediation Standards

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently adopted amended Remediation Standards...

Understanding New Jersey’s New Remediation Standards

Understanding New Jersey’s New Remediation Standards

<strong>The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently adopted amended Remediation Standards.</strong>..

Author: Daniel T. McKillop|June 8, 2021

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently adopted amended Remediation Standards. The new rules implement the provisions of the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act and other statutes, by establishing standards for the remediation of contaminated groundwater, surface water, soil, soil leachate, and indoor air. The changes will have a profound impact on contaminated site remediation projects in New Jersey.

New Remediation Standards

The Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act (Brownfield Act) requires the Department to develop remediation standards for soil, groundwater, and surface water quality necessary for the remediation of contamination of real property. Under the Brownfield Act, these standards must be protective of public health and safety, and the environment. The remediation standards apply to contaminated sites throughout the State.

The NJDEP periodically updates the remediation standards to ensure that they meet the obligations of the Brownfields Act. On May 17, 2021, the NJDEP adopted amended rules governing site remediation in New Jersey. The amended Remediation Standards include soil and soil leachate remediation standards for the migration to groundwater exposure pathway and indoor air remediation standards for the vapor intrusion exposure pathway. They also address the replacement of direct contact soil remediation standards with separate soil remediation standards for the inhalation exposure pathway and the ingestion-dermal exposure pathway. In addition, the rule amendments expand the existing interim remediation standard process to include soil and soil leachate for the migration to groundwater exposure pathway, indoor air for the vapor intrusion exposure pathway, and groundwater.

Additionally, the existing process for updating remediation standards has been expanded to include soil and soil leachate for the migration to groundwater exposure pathway, indoor air for the vapor intrusion exposure pathway, and groundwater. The existing alternative remediation standards process has also been expanded to include soil and soil leachate for the migration to groundwater exposure pathway and indoor air for the vapor intrusion exposure pathway.

Updated Technical Guidance

The NJDEP has developed and updated several technical guidance documents to reflect the amended Remediation Standards. These technical guidance documents include basis and background documents, calculators, and technical guidance documents for developing alternative remediation standards for the ingestion-dermal, inhalation, migration to groundwater, and vapor intrusion exposure pathways. According to the NJDEP, “[T]hese technical guidance documents are intended to provide additional guidance to the regulated community regarding the development of remediation standards options for deriving alternative remediation standards.”

The NJDEP has also updated its Vapor Intrusion Technical Guidance webpage to coincide with the new indoor air remediation standards. The webpage includes the following updated technical guidance documents: Vapor Intrusion Screening Levels and Indoor Air Remediation Standards Tables; Vapor Intrusion Screening Levels: Basis and Background Document; and Johnson and Ettinger Spreadsheets with instructions.

What’s Next?

The Remediation Standards may be used immediately; however, there is a six-month phase-in period that may be used in accordance with the rule. The NJDEP has published Phase-In Period Guidance for the Use of Remediation Standards.

The new guidance provides that the person responsible for conducting the remediation must comply with the amended remediation standards effective May 17, 2021, except as set forth in the guidance. The exceptions provided in the guidance may be applied only to a site or an area of concern for which (a) a remedial action workplan or remedial action report has either been approved by the Department or certified by the retained Licensed Site Remediation Professional but (b) does not have a final remediation document (i.e., a No Further Action Letter or Response Action Outcome).

The NJDEP will provide training for the adopted amendments to the Remediation Standards for LSRPs and interested parties on June 9, 2021, and for the alternative remediation standards technical guidance and updated vapor intrusion screening levels on June 15, 2021.

Key Takeaway

The amended Remediation Standards make changes to several types of contamination, including contaminated ground water, surface water, soil, soil leachate, and indoor air.  If you are currently involved in site remediation, you should review the amendments to determine whether they may impact your obligations. 

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Dan McKillop, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

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About Author Daniel T. McKillop

Daniel T. McKillop

Dan McKillop has more than fifteen years of experience representing corporate and individual clients in complex environmental litigation and regulatory proceedings before state and federal courts and environmental agencies arising under numerous state and federal statutes.

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