PROMOTES BROWNFIELD REDEVELOPMENT
(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
"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
"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.