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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2006

 

Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795

 

DEP COMMISSIONER JACKSON PLEDGES EFFICIENT POLLUTION CLEANUPS DURING SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING

(06/60) TRENTON - In testimony before the Senate Environment Committee today, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson outlined aggressive plans to ensure protection of public health by spurring timely and thorough cleanups of contaminated properties.

Commissioner Jackson discussed the creation of a system within DEP's Site Remediation Program to prioritize cleanups of properties that pose the greatest environmental threats and requested the Legislature to set a more stringent health standard for cleanups of sites that could be used for residences, schools or child-care facilities.

"The state has in excess of 16,000 contaminated sites. These range from minor leaks of residential heating oil tanks to federal Superfund sites,'' Commissioner Jackson said. "It is crucial that we effectively track progress of remediation efforts at these sites. And it is equally important that the public, our partners in local government, the development community and lending institutions have real-time computerized access to this information - not simply a list that is published every few years.''

Commissioner Jackson testified during a hearing on S-2261, a bill sponsored by Sen. Fred H. Madden Jr., that stems from mercury contamination at Kiddie Kollege, a child-care center that operated at a former thermometer plant in Franklin, Gloucester County.

Among its provisions, the bill prohibits issuance of construction permits for any building that has been used for industrial or other high-hazard purposes until the builder receives a "No Further Action" letter from the DEP.

The new site-tracking system will integrate Geographic Information System technology and DEP databases to rank sites based on factors such as extent of contamination and proximity to water supplies. It will be used to prioritize cleanup orders to responsible parties and to evaluate when public funds are needed to get cleanups under way.

In addition, the Commissioner proposed creation of a program to issue licenses to professionals to evaluate and oversee cleanups at sites that pose less serious environmental health threats, freeing DEP staff to focus on sites with more pressing issues.

View the full transcript of NJDEP Commissioner Jackson's Testimony (PDF).

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Last Updated: October 24, 2006