DEP TAKES ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AGAINST RESPONSIBLE PARTIES
FOR FAILURE TO MEET CONTAMINATED SITE MONITORING REQUIREMENTS
(07/41) TRENTON -The Department of Environmental Protection is launching enforcement actions against approximately 950 responsible parties who have failed to monitor and report on the condition of caps, areas of groundwater contamination, and status of deed notices as required under department-approved remediation plans, Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced today.
“We realize that the state’s system that allows self-reporting for monitoring of these contaminated properties is broken, and we are taking the first steps toward fixing this,” Commissioner Jackson said. “Still, this situation seriously undermines the department’s ability to ensure protection of public health and the environment. We are committed to using every enforcement tool available to bring these responsible parties into compliance as promptly as possible.”
The DEP today published on its Web site an alert notifying the responsible parties that they face enforcement actions. The enforcement alert is available on-line at: http://www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/advisories-sr.htm
The DEP will begin issuing notices of violation next week. Penalties could be assessed at $8,000 for every day out of compliance.
Laws governing contaminated site cleanups currently allow measures to be in place to ensure remedies, such as construction of caps, remain protective. Measures include deed restrictions to alert any future property owners that an engineering control or use restriction is being utilized at the property.
The law also allows responsible parties to delineate certain areas of groundwater contamination, and requires regular monitoring to ensure site conditions have not changed since the area was established.
As a condition of the department’s approval of these remedies, the responsible parties agreed to evaluate site conditions and submit a report every other year through a document known as a Biennial Certification.
In September 2006, DEP adopted Grace Period rules that classified the failure to submit Biennial Certifications as a “non-minor” violation subject to penalties. In March, the DEP sent out nearly 2,100 letters advising that an amnesty period for attaining compliance with the rules would expire Sept. 18, 2007.
The properties subject to the letters include commercial and residential redevelopment sites, industrial sites, gas stations, and public institutions.
Of the responsible parties sent notifications, approximately 840 responded by returning the necessary biennial certifications, work plans, or requests for an extension. The department is investigating approximately 300 additional sites to determine if enforcement action is warranted.
“This situation underscores the need for reforms to DEP’s Site Remediation Program,” Commissioner Jackson said. “While we have made significant progress over the past year, including recently releasing a series of draft white papers that discuss problems and various reform options, we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
To view the Site Remediation Program reform draft white papers, go to: www.nj.gov/dep/srp/stakeholders/whitepapers/.