DEP Commissioner Campbell
Proposes New Incentives to Encourage Businesses to Self-Disclose
(03/115) TRENTON - To encourage
companies to take a proactive role and achieve greater environmental
compliance, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell proposed a new rule
that provides businesses financial incentive to voluntarily
discover, promptly correct, and report environmental violations.
"These incentives to self report violations
encourage the early detection and prompt correction of environmental
problems that may otherwise languish until a scheduled inspection,"
said Commissioner Campbell. "Facilities that self report
and, more importantly, self correct violations will not
face as harsh of penalties as those facilities who wait
for the department to find an environmental problem."
Under the newly proposed self-disclosure
rules, new standards are established to reduce penalties
for violations of environmental laws that a business voluntarily
discovers, reports and immediately addresses. The penalty
reduction incentives supplement, but do not replace, existing
enforcement strategies to achieve environmental compliance.
As part of the rule, businesses are eligible
for a 100 percent penalty waiver for self-disclosed minor
environmental violations that pose a minimal risk to public
health, safety and natural resources and a 75 percent penalty
reduction for self-reported moderate violations that are
more serious but do not cause serious harm to public health
or the environment. Minor violations include administrative
and certain paperwork requirements. Small businesses are
eligible for 100 percent reduction for both minor and moderate
"Our goal is to increase the number
of regulated businesses that take a proactive role in identifying
environmental violations, " added Commissioner Campbell.
"Simply put, the self-disclosure rule recognizes and
rewards compliance efforts by proactive, environmentally
Once the self disclosure rule is enacted,
businesses will be able to fill out a simple form on DEP's
website to quickly and easily report the results of their
own examinations of their facilities.
The proposed rules contain safeguards to
ensure that violations that have caused serious harm to
the environment or the public or that involved a pattern
of inappropriate conduct on the part of corporate officials
will not be eligible for penalty reductions. In order to
achieve the self-disclosure incentives a business must:
Voluntarily discover and disclose the violation
independently of a government agency - if the DEP finds
a violation during an inspection it can not be self-disclosed;
Disclose a violation within 21 days of
its detection; and
Promptly correct the violation.
Repeat violations do not qualify for self-disclosure
The DEP's proposed self-disclosure rule
is consistent with the principles outlined in the federal
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) incentive program
adopted in 1995 and revised in 2000. After EPA adopted its
self-disclosure policy, the number of companies disclosing
actual or potential violations increased from 670 companies
to more than 2,700 facilities over a four-year period.
The DEP's self-disclosure rule proposal
was published in the August 18, 2003 issue of the New Jersey
Register and can be accessed at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/enforcement.
A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 29 at
10 a.m. in the DEP's public hearing room in Trenton.
The written public comment period is 60
days. Comments should be submitted by October 17, 2003,
Attn: Alice Previte, Esq.
DEP Docket No. 15-03-0 7/379
Office of Legal Affairs, NJ Department of Environmental
PO Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402