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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2003

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

DEP Commissioner Campbell Proposes New Incentives to Encourage Businesses to Self-Disclose Environmental Violations

(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 violations.

"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 conscientious facilities."

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 incentives.

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, to:

Attn: Alice Previte, Esq.
DEP Docket No. 15-03-0 7/379
Office of Legal Affairs, NJ Department of Environmental Protection
PO Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

 

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