Public Hearing on DEP’s Toxic Polluter “Safety Cushion” Rule on Monday
Letter To Sponsors UrgesÂ Legislative Veto as “Inconsistent with Legislative Intent”Â
[Update 2: 11/8/10 Bergen Record editorial (Wolfenotes gets no respect, after doing all the lifting on this): One size doesn’t fit
Update 1: 11/5/10 – Jim O’neill of the Bergen Record wrote a good story today:
“The chief concern about outsourcing toxic cleanups is that protecting the public takes a back seat to the profit motive,” said Bill Wolfe with the New Jersey chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “These rules would Halliburton-ize environmental protection in New Jersey by leaving the contractor in charge of what gets done and when.”
DEP willÂ hold a public hearingÂ on Monday, November 1 on the DEP’s “Safety Cushion” rule – for analysisÂ and links to documents, see:Â DEP Creates â€œSafety Cushionâ€ for Toxic PollutersÂ (the hearings are conveniently heldÂ a day before and after the election, which assures no press coverage)
You canÂ also read the DEP proposal here:Â Two public hearings are scheduled:
Monday, November 1, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Public Hearing Room
401 E. State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
New Jersey Water Supply Authority
1851 State Route 31
Clinton, NJ 08809
Written comments may be submitted by December 3, 2010 to:
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Leslie Ledogar, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 06-10-09
Office of Legal Affairs
PO Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
Below is my lettter to the Democratic legislators who sponsored the SRRA:
Dear Senator Smith and Assemblyman McKeon:
I am writing to you as sponsors of the Site Remediation Reform Act, P.L. 2009, c. 60 (hereafter “SRRA”).Â
I previously wroteÂ to advise that in theÂ October 4, 2010 NJ Register, the DEP proposed new rules that would eliminate and delay implementation ofÂ the mandatory remedial timeframesÂ and related requirements established byÂ interimÂ rules adopted pursuant toÂ the SRRA in December 2009 (for DEP proposal, see: Â Â http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/notices/100410a.htmlÂ
I previously requested that you make legislative inquiry to DEP regarding this proposal, that you conduct oversight hearings, and – should DEP not agree to withdraw the proposal – to use your legislative powers toÂ invalidateÂ the proposed rulesÂ as inconsistent with legislative intent pursuant to the NJ Constitution. As you know,Â
Article V, Section IV, paragraph 6 of the Constitution of the State of New Jersey provides that the Legislature may review any rule or regulation of an administrative agency to determine if the rule or regulation is consistent with the intent of the Legislature and, upon a finding that the rule or regulation is not consistent with legislative intent, may transmit such finding to the Governor and the head of the agency
Below, in summary points I-V,Â please find the relevant statutory provisions andÂ statements ofÂ legislative intent. These are clearly violated byÂ the subject DEP rule proposal.
DEP will hold a public hearingÂ on the proposal onÂ November 1 atÂ DEP’s Trenton HQ.
IÂ reiterate my prior requests and look forward to yourÂ timely and favorable response.
Â Bill Wolfe, Director, NJ PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)
I)Â SRRA Remedial timeframeÂ requirements are mandatory, not discretionary – if deadlines are missed, DEP assumption of oversight is mandatory, not discretionary:
A. Section 27 provides, in pertinent part:Â
C.58:10C-27Â Direct oversight of remediation by department; conditions.
Â Â Â Â 27. a. The department shall undertake direct oversight of a remediation of a contaminated site under the following conditions:
Â Â Â Â (1)Â Â the person responsible for conducting the remediation has a history of noncompliance with the laws concerning remediation, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, that includes the issuance of at least two enforcement actions after the date of enactment of P.L.2009, c.60 (C.58:10C-1 et al.) during any five-year period concerning a remediation;
Â Â Â Â (2)Â Â the person responsible for conducting the remediation at a contaminated site has failed to meet a mandatory remediation timeframe or an expedited site specific timeframe adopted by the department pursuant to section 28 of P.L.2009, c.60 (C.58:10C-28), including any extension thereof granted by the department, or a schedule established pursuant to an administrative order or court order;
II) SRRA Remedial timeframeÂ extensions are mandated under 28. cÂ under limited conditions. Those conditions do notÂ include providing a “safety cushion” as proposed by DEP rules. Extensions are allowable in 28.d. under limited conditions, however, any extensionÂ must be justified onÂ and isÂ limited to a site specific basisÂ and can not be done categorically by rule.
C.58:10C-28Â Establishment of mandatory remediation timeframes.
Â Â Â Â 28. a. The department shall establish mandatory remediation timeframes, and expedited site specific timeframes when necessary, to protect the public health and safety and the environment, for each of the following:
Â Â Â Â (1)Â Â a receptor evaluation;Â
Â Â Â Â (2)Â Â control of ongoing sources of contamination;Â
Â Â Â Â (3)Â Â establishment of interim remedial measures;
Â Â Â Â (4)Â Â addressing immediate environmental concern conditions;Â
Â Â Â Â (5)Â Â the performance of each phase of the remediation including preliminary assessment, site investigation, remedial investigation and remedial action;Â
Â Â Â Â (6)Â Â completion of remediation; andÂ
Â Â Â Â (7)Â Â any other activities deemed necessary by the department to effectuate timely remediation.
Â Â Â Â b.Â Â Â In establishing remediation timeframes pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the department shall take the following into account:Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â (1)Â Â the potential risk to the public health, safety, and the environment;Â
Â Â Â Â (2)Â Â the results of the receptor evaluation;Â
Â Â Â Â (3)Â Â the ongoing industrial or commercial operations at the site;Â
Â Â Â Â (4)Â Â whether, for operating industrial or commercial facilities, there are no releases of contamination to the groundwater or surface water from the site; andÂ
Â Â Â Â (5)Â Â the complexity of the contaminated site.Â
Â Â Â Â c.Â Â Â Â The department shall grant an extension to a mandatory remediation timeframe as a result of:Â
Â Â Â Â (1)Â Â a delay by the department in reviewing or granting a permit, provided that there was a timely filing of a technically and administratively complete permit application;Â
Â Â Â Â (2)Â Â a delay in the provision of State funding for remediation, provided that there was a timely filing of a technically and administratively complete application for funding; orÂ
Â Â Â Â (3)Â Â a delay by the department for an approval or permit required for long-term operation, maintenance and monitoring of anÂ engineering control at the site provided the request for approval or permit application is technically and administratively complete.Â
Â Â Â Â d.Â Â Â The department may grant an extension to a mandatory remediation timeframe on a case-by case basis as a result of:Â
Â Â Â Â (1)Â Â a delay in obtaining access to property, provided the person responsible for conducting the remediation demonstrates that good faith efforts have been undertaken to gain access, access has not been granted by the property owner, and, after good faith efforts have been exhausted, a complaint was filed with the Superior Court to gain access, in accordance with applicable rules and regulations;Â
Â Â Â Â (2)Â Â other circumstances beyond the control of the person responsible for conducting the remediation, such as fire, flood, riot, or strike; orÂ
Â Â Â Â (3)Â Â other site-specific circumstances that may warrant an extension as determined by the department.
III ) The SRRA statute requiresÂ mandatory enforcement – there isÂ no discretion provided to DEP to waive mandatory requirements as DEP has done via “compliance advisory” (see: http://www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/advisories/2010-12.pdfÂ
e. Any person who violates P.L.2009, c.60 (C.58:10C-1 et al.), or any rule, regulation, code of conduct, or order adopted or issued pursuant thereto, or who fails to pay a civil penalty or civil administrative penalty in full or to agree to a schedule of payments therefor, shall be subject, upon order of a court, to a civil penalty not toÂ exceed $10,000 for a first violation and not more than $20,000 for every subsequentÂ violation. Any civil penalty imposed pursuant to this subsection may be collectedÂ with costs in a summary proceeding pursuant to the “Penalty Enforcement Law ofÂ 1999,”P.L. 1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10-et seq).
IV) The SRRA statute provides forÂ mandatory assumption of DEPÂ oversight when specific legislative criteria are not met – there is noÂ discretion provided to DEP toÂ waive or deviate fromÂ these criteria via regulation
C.58:10C-27 Direct oversight of remediation by department; conditions.27. a. The department shall undertake direct oversight of a remediation of a contaminated site under the following conditions:
(2) the person responsible for conducting the remediation at a contaminated site has failed to meet a mandatory remediation timeframe or an expedited site specific timeframe adopted by the department pursuant to section 28 of P.L.2009, c.60 (C.58:10C-28), including any extension thereof granted by theÂ department, or a schedule established pursuant to an administrative order or court order;
V) The clear legislative intent is to expedite cleanups viaÂ SRRAÂ mandatory timeframes
See this 2/26/09 – press release by the sponsor:
SMITH SITE REMEDIATION BILL MOVES FULL STEAM AHEAD
Bill Would Help Accelerate Clean-up of Contaminated Sites & Create New State & Local Revenue
â€œFirst and foremost, it will be a victory for public health if we can address the environmental concerns on these properties more quickly and efficiently.
If the site starts out under an LSRP and then they do not meet mandatory timeframes for the cleanup, DEP would assume direct oversight of the project.
Smith Licensed Site Professionals Bill Approved By Full Senate
By Jason Butkowski | March 16th, 2009 – 7:35pm
SMITH LICENSED SITE PROFESSIONALS BILL APPROVED BY FULL SENATE – Measure Would Break Backlog Of Site Remediation Projects By Allowing Professional Review, Approval
TRENTON â€“ A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Smith, Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, which would establish a licensed site remediation professional program in New Jersey to speed up the clean-up of contaminated sites around the State was approved by the full Senate today by a vote of 34-4, receiving final legislative approval.â€œRight now, New Jersey has a backlog of over 20,000 known contaminated sites in the State that are not being cleaned up fast enough,â€ said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset. â€œThese sites are a blight on our neighborhoods, a major public health hazard, and an impediment to the environmentally-sound redevelopment of our aging urban and suburban industrial communities. If weâ€™re going to overcome the backlog, ensure the public health and transform these sites into useful, viable property, we need to change how we handle the site remediation approval process in the Garden State.â€