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PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENTS


Frequently Asked Questions regarding Preliminary Assessments

  1. What is a Preliminary Assessment?
  2. How do you conduct a Preliminary Assessment?
  3. What is the purpose of the Preliminary Assessment Checklist?
  4. Does the Preliminary Assessment Report need to be certified?
  5. Do I need to perform an aerial photo review of my property as part of the Preliminary Assessment?
  6. If the Preliminary Assessment identifies an Area of Concern, what happens next?
  7. What is Green Acres' policy on historic pesticides?
  8. Do I need to obtain Green Acres approval to investigate an area of concern?
  9. Do I need to hire a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) to perform the Preliminary Assessment or any required sampling?
  10. What can I do to help ensure that the Preliminary Assessment is acceptable to the Green Acres?
  11. Can I submit an electronic copy of the Preliminary Assessment Report?
  12. What is Green Acres policy with regard to Underground Storage Tank (USTs)?
  13. If I have further questions about Preliminary Assessments, where can I find more information or who can I contact?

1.  What is a Preliminary Assessment?

The Green Acres Program Rules (N.J.A.C.7:36) establish the procedures by which the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will provide funding to local government units and nonprofits to acquire or develop lands for recreation and conservation.  As part of the application process for funding, local government units and nonprofits are required to perform a Preliminary Assessment.

A Preliminary Assessment is the process of collecting and reviewing available information to identify any potentially contaminated areas of concern on a property.  The performance of a Preliminary Assessment at a property will help minimize public liability for site cleanup costs and help ensure that any lands acquired or developed with public funds can be utilized for recreation without risk to public health.

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2.  How do you conduct a Preliminary Assessment?

The Preliminary Assessment must be done in accordance with the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (TRSR), N.J.A.C. 7:26E-3 and shall identify all areas of concern at a property.  Pursuant to the TRSR, an area of concern is defined as any location where any hazardous substance, hazardous waste, or pollutant is known or suspected to have been discharged, generated, manufactured, refined, transported, stored, handled, treated, or disposed, or where any hazardous substance, hazardous waste, or pollutant has or may have migrated.

After the Preliminary Assessment has been performed, a Preliminary Assessment Report shall be prepared in accordance with the TRSR and submitted to the Green Acres Program, along with the optional Preliminary Assessment Checklist

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3.  What is the purpose of the Preliminary Assessment Checklist?

The Preliminary Assessment Checklist was created to help ensure that any Preliminary Assessment Report that is submitted to the Green Acres Program meets the minimum requirements as defined in the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation, N.J.A.C. 7:26E-3.1 through 3.2, and to help avoid processing delays that may result from submitting incomplete information.  The Preliminary Assessment Checklist is available on the Green Acres web site at www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres

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4.  Does the Preliminary Assessment Report need to be certified?

Yes.  For the Green Acres Program, the following certification shall be signed by the applicant, not the environmental consultant:

“I certify under penalty of law that I have personally examined and am familiar with the information submitted herein, including all attached documents, and that based on my inquiry of those individuals immediately responsible for obtaining the information, to the best of my knowledge, I believe that the submitted information is true, accurate and complete. I am aware that there are significant civil penalties for knowingly submitting false, inaccurate or incomplete information and that I am committing a crime of the fourth degree if I make a written false statement which I do not believe to be true. I am also aware that if I knowingly direct or authorize the violation of any statute, I am personally liable for the penalties.”

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5.  Do I need to perform an aerial photo review of my property as part of the Preliminary Assessment?

Yes.  The Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (N.J.A.C. 7:26E-3.1(b)1.vi) require an interpretation of the aerial photographic history of a property if it exceeds two acres in size.  However, the Green Acres Program considers the protection of public health and the expenditure of public funds to be justification for requiring work to be performed beyond the minimum technical, regardless of site size.  Therefore, an aerial photo review of all properties shall be done as part of any Preliminary Assessment submitted to the Green Acres Program.

The interpretation of the aerial photographic history must utilize available current and historical color, black and white and infrared aerial photographs (scale 1:18,000 or less) of the site and surrounding area at a frequency that provides the evaluator with an historical perspective of site activities. The photographic history shall date back to 1932 or the earliest photograph available. All relevant aerial photos shall be included in the Preliminary Assessment Report and shall depict the property boundaries.

Aerial photographs are available for review  from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Tidelands Management Program (609) 633-7369.

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6.  If the Preliminary Assessment identifies an Area of Concern, what happens next?

Pursuant to the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation, N.J.A.C.7:26E-3.2(a)4, the Preliminary Assessment Report shall identify all areas of concern at a property and contain a recommendation that:

  • the area of concern is potentially contaminated and thus additional investigation or remediation is required, or
  • the area of concern is not believed to contain contaminants above the applicable remediation standards, and documentation is provided to support this belief.

The local government unit or nonprofit must address all areas of concern identified in the preliminary assessment to the NJDEP's satisfaction before Green Acres disburses its funding.

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7.  What is Green Acres’ policy on historic pesticides?

The presence of contamination due to historic pesticide use represents a potential risk to human health.  Therefore, if the Preliminary Assessment for a property identifies historic or current agricultural use, soil sampling may be required to address the potential for residual pesticide contamination, depending on the use of the property. 

If the property is to be developed, soil sampling is required to document whether pesticide residues are present.  The soil samples shall be collected and analyzed as outlined in the March 1999 “Findings and Recommendations for the Remediation of Historic Pesticide Contamination.” The Green Acres Program considers “development” to be any disturbance of the land such that there is an increased exposure to any contaminants on the property.  This definition includes the following: playgrounds, ball fields, picnic areas, dog parks and campgrounds.  Also, in order to protect maintenance workers, the definition includes any grassy/vegetated areas which are expected to be mowed on a regular basis.

If the property is to remain undeveloped, the Green Acres Program still recommends soil sampling.  However, due to the limited exposure to the users of undeveloped properties, soil sampling is not mandatory. If the applicant opts to forego soil sampling, then the applicant shall submit the Green Acres “Potential Historic Pesticide Contamination Certification Form”.

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8.  Do I need to obtain Green Acres approval to investigate an area of concern?

No. Green Acres approval is not required; however, all work must be in accordance with the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation, N.J.A.C. 7:26E

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9.  Do I need to hire a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) to perform the Preliminary Assessment or any required sampling?

The Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (ARRCS), N.J.A.C. 7:26C establish the administrative procedures and requirements for the remediation of contamination sites.  Pursuant to the ARRCS rules, any person who initiates a remediation after November 4, 2009 must hire a Licensed Site Remediation Professional.  However, pursuant to N.J.A.C 7:26C-1.4 (Exemptions), the ARRCS rules do not apply to any person who is conducting due diligence; therefore, you do not need to hire an LSRP to perform the Preliminary Assessment or the initial soil sampling.

However, if initial sampling results indicate the presence of contamination above the NJDEP’s Soil Remediation Standards, the case then enters the Remedial Investigation (RI) phase and an LSRP would then be required for all subsequent phases of investigation and remediation.

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10.  What can I do to help ensure that the Preliminary Assessment is acceptable to the Green Acres?

Use the Preliminary Assessment Checklist and pay particular attention to the following:

  1. For any properties which currently have structures on them, or which formerly contained structures, the Preliminary Assessment shall provide details on current and historical heating methods and shall specifically address the potential for underground heating oil tanks and septic systems to be present on a property.
  2. The Preliminary Assessment shall address the potential for wells to be present on the property.  In cases where existing wells are no longer being used, the wells must be properly decommissioned, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:9D, and proof of proper decommissioning must be submitted to the NJDEP’s Bureau of Water Allocation and Well Permitting.  Their telephone number is (609) 984-6831.
  3. If solid waste is present on a property, it shall be removed and properly disposed of.   All waste manifests shall be submitted to the Green Acres Program.
  4. Unused septic Systems should be properly abandoned pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:9A-12.8.

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11.  Can I submit an electronic copy of the Preliminary Assessment Report?

The Preliminary Assessment Report shall be submitted as a paper copy.

For further questions, contact Michael Buriani, Green Acres Program, at 609-984-0529.

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12.  What is Green Acres policy with regard to Underground Storage Tank (USTs)?

For properties being acquired by the Green Acres Program (including the Blue Acres flood buyouts), the Green Acres Program requires the removal of all USTs as well as soil sampling to determine if contamination is present.  This policy applies to all “regulated” and “unregulated” USTs, as defined at N.J.A.C. 7:14B.  Please note that existing USTs may not be abandoned in place to comply with this policy.  If a UST was previously abandoned in place, it must still be removed.

USTs are generally governed by the following regulations and policies:

A detailed explanation of regulations and policies for "unregulated" USTs and "regulated" USTs is available as a PDF here, along with links to the relevant documents.

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13.  If I have further questions about Preliminary Assessments, where can I find more information or who can I contact?

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Department of Environmental Protection
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Last Updated: December 22, 2013