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February 2, 2005

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795


(05/07) TRENTON -- In an effort to promote economic growth and the cleanup of contaminated sites in New Jersey, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed legislation that provides qualified developers liability protection against natural resource damage claims at brownfield sites across the state.

"The Governor's action provides innocent companies assurance that they will not be held liable for costs related to natural resource injuries," said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "This new law rightly puts the costs of injuries to our ground water supplies and other natural resources on the backs of polluters, while encouraging cleanup and redevelopment of blighted sites."

The legislation also provides brownfield developers liability protection for off-site contamination and makes changes to the statute of limitations under which DEP can assess NRD claims.

"Brownfield redevelopment projects not only help create jobs and new economic opportunities, but they can be a potential source of new property tax revenue for municipalities," said Assemblyman John McKeon, chairman of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. "We should do all we can to continue the promotion of such redevelopment efforts."

"Because of their location and commercial zoning status, brownfield sites are becoming increasingly attractive in the eyes of commercial developers," McKeon added. "These liability protections give yet another incentive for increased restoration and redevelopment while continuing to protect our region's important natural resources."

"I am very pleased the Governor has signed A-2444," said Assemblyman Christopher 'Kip' Bateman. "It will assist towns like South Bound Brook with the redevelopment of former industrial properties. This legislation will encourage the purchase and redevelopment of contaminated sites in our older, urban towns and hopefully lead to the revitalization of brownfield areas that have stood vacant for too long."

"This law is just plain common sense," said Senator Henry McNamara. "This law will encourage companies that specialize in redeveloping old industrial sites to work with local officials and the state to rebuild cities and older suburbs rather than contributing to sprawl."

"This legislation is long overdue and personally, as Mayor of Northvale, will benefit my municipality," said Assemblyman John Rooney.

"Providing liability protection for property owners who have unknowingly purchased contaminated land after 1997 is good public policy," said Assemblyman Jack Conners.

The liability protections apply to developers that already acquired or will acquire property on or after January 6, 1998, which is the effective date of the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act. Developers must also have acquired the property after any discharge of a hazardous substance occurred. In addition, developers cannot be responsible for the discharge of a hazardous substance at the property or be corporate successors to the discharger or any other liable person. Lastly, the liability protections do not apply to developers that have already agreed to the payment of compensation for natural resource damages.

The new statute also provides developers liability protection for cleanup costs related to contamination that has migrated beyond their own property. To be eligible for this protection, developers must meet similar conditions to those required for NRD liability release. In addition, developers are required to demonstrate that the off-site contamination is from more than one source and that it will not pose a risk to public health or the environment if it is not remediated.

DEP assesses natural resource damages to compensate the residents of New Jersey for injuries to natural resources that are held in the public trust. Injuries can include both ecological injuries such as damage to wetlands, wildlife, ground water or surface water as well as public use injuries such as the closure of a waterway to fishing, a beach to swimming or an aquifer to use as a drinking water supply. New Jersey's Spill Compensation and Control Act holds any entity that has discharged hazardous substances onto the land or into the waters of the state liable for cleanup and removal costs, as well as the cost of restoring or replacing natural resources injured by the discharge.



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Last Updated: February 2, 2005