The Assembly and the Senate passed a bill today extending the deadline for remedial investigation of contaminated sites to May 7, 2016 before the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) undertakes direct oversight. In the absence of the extension, a failure to comply with the statutory deadline would have triggered for many sites a requirement of direct NJDEP oversight of the remedial investigation, resulting in a large loss of control over remediation decision-making and possibly higher costs. The bill is waiting on Governor Chris Christie’s desk.

Under the proposed legislation, the Person Responsible for Conducting the Remediation (“PRCR”) must apply to the NJDEP by the later of March 7, 2014 or 30 days after the legislation become law for an extension of the deadline for remedial investigation. This application must certify to the following seven items:

  1. A licensed site remediation professional (“LSRP”) was retained;
  2. All other mandatory timeframes have been met;
  3. Technically complete submissions have been made in compliance with all rules and regulations for site remediation, as applicable, for the (a) initial receptor evaluation, (b) immediate environmental concern source control report, (c) light non-aqueous phase liquid interim remedial measure report, (d) preliminary assessment report, and (e) site investigation report;
  4. A remediation funding source has been established if already required;
  5. If a remediation funding source is not required to be established by the applicant pursuant to law, then a remediation trust fund for the estimated cost of the remedial investigation has been established;
  6. Any oversight costs imposed by the NJDEP, known at the time of the application and not in dispute on the date of enactment of this legislation, have been paid to the department; and
  7. The annual fees imposed by the NJDEP for the remediation and remediation funding source surcharges have been paid to the NJDEP, as applicable.

Applications for extensions under the proposed legislation must be filed by March 7, 2014 or 30 days after the date of enactment, whichever is later. Extensions are also available if the failure to complete the remedial investigation is due to a delay in the provision of State financial assistance from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund.

Extensions will be deemed approved upon receipt by NJDEP. NJDEP may, however, undertake direct oversight of a remediation during the extension of time if:

  1. the conditions listed above are no longer met; or
  2. the PRCR fails to meet a mandatory remediation timeframe after submission of the certification submitted pursuant to this section.

Under NJDEP direct oversight, the NJDEP may guide the remediation, choose the specific remedy, and require the person responsible for conducting the remediation to establish a Remediation Trust Fund in order to pay for the remedial approach chosen by the NJDEP.