Home > Uncategorized > No Storm of Protest Over DEP’s Lack of Regulatory Controls and Privatization

No Storm of Protest Over DEP’s Lack of Regulatory Controls and Privatization

Lack of DEP Regulatory Standards Leads to Abuse By Private Engineers Who Work For Builders

Private “Consultants” Make Toxic Site “Cleanup” Decisions Too

[Update: 5/21/15 – There are hundreds of cases of abuse like this – a must read story:

Rutherford tenants upset with lack of notification about site contamination 

Tenants questioned why they weren’t notified about the investigation prior to three months ago, when the contamination was identified years ago.  ~~~ end update]

Bill Potter does a good job explaining a complex regulatory scheme for storm water in an Op-Ed running at NJ Spotlight today, don’t miss it:

The next time it rains, check out the water flowing down your gutters and into the street. Where all that rainwater — called stormwater or runoff — goes and who is responsible for taking care of it are big-time statewide issues, although you wouldn’t know it from the lack of public attention. Rather quietly, there’s a major storm brewing over stormwater — how to regulate it, who does the regulating and on what criteria.

As I’ve learned, it is difficult to present complex DEP regulatory issues journalistically.

Potter’s Op-Ed also correctly targets the determinative aspects of the issue – i.e private engineers, local governments, and lack of State regulatory standards – and makes recommendations for reforms.

So I thought I might latch on to Bill’s piece and make a quick comparison to similar problems with lack of DEP standards and privatization in the toxic site cleanup program.

To begin to address the water quality and flooding problems Bill correctly notes,  DEP needs to adopt “objective” technical standards to restrict some of the discretion the local governments and professional engineers now have.

Municipalities compound weaknesses in DEP regulations by granting conditional approvals that can essentially privatize the review process, another big problem Potter correctly notes.

But, with storm water management, at least the private engineer is working for the local land use board.

In contrast, under NJ’s toxic site cleanup program, the private “Licensed Site Remediation Professionals” (LSRP) works for the private polluter!!!

Yes, that’s right folks, under the 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act  – thanks to former DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson and Gov. Jon Corzine and Democratic legislators sponsors Smith and McKeon – private consultants certify compliance with toxic site cleanup requirements with virtually no oversight by DEP [or the knowledge, review or consent of the public].

If you think that is not important, just consider that while the consultant who works for DEP found that there was $8.9 BILLION in pollution damages to natural resources from toxic dumping at the Exxon Bayway and Bayonne refineries, the consultants for Exxon said the damage was ZERO!

Curious that those now making the most noise opposing the Exxon settlement were the same folks who brought us privatization of the cleanup program.

And LSRP’s are “licensed” by and overseen by a board composed of fellow LSRP’s.

Worse, there are no longstanding academic curriculum, university degree programs, institutions, and professional traditions – like those that are strong in the field of civil engineering – for setting rigorous requirements for an LSRP license.

And toxic sites pose far greater risks to human health and the environment than storm water does.

Is that a formula for abuse or what?

So, how do you like ‘dem apples?

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