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Policy Directive 2002-003
Acceleration of Brownfield Cleanup and Reuse

New Jersey is plagued by more than 12,000 properties that are or may be contaminated by hazardous substances. These brownfield sites are unhappy legacies of New Jersey's industrial history and poor waste management practices in the past, but many of these sites can be transformed into centerpieces of economic and community renewal. These properties must be remediated and reused to fulfill Governor James E. McGreevey's goals to control sprawl, promote redevelopment, and reform dated regulatory practices. In Executive Order No. 38 (Oct. 22, 2002), Governor McGreevey focused the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and other agencies on redevelopment of idle sites in already developed areas. This focus is central to the Governor's objectives of promoting smart growth and creating a broader range of choices and more livable communities for businesses and families in New Jersey.

While New Jersey's brownfield programs to date have made progress in accelerating the cleanup and redevelopment of those brownfield sites most suited to redevelopment, DEP's programs require further reform and improvement to address those sites where the technical, practical, and environmental challenges are more complex. Sites have languished, and communities have been blighted, due to the failure to work effectively with the business community and municipalities and to undertake reforms that will accelerate public health protection and economic renewal that come with returning these idle sites to productive use. The assumption that brownfield sites should be used only for commercial or residential redevelopment has limited potential use of these sites for residential, recreational, open space, and other uses. In some cases, the absence of adequate enforcement and safeguards has allowed responsible site owners to "warehouse" sites - to defer needed cleanup by choosing to keep the sites idle rather than having responsible parties own up to their cleanup obligations.

This directive identifies and directs, pursuant to Executive Order No. 38, implementation of the policy and program changes needed to reduce regulatory uncertainty, to reconcile business and regulatory decision time frames, to expand potential reuses of brownfield sites, and to ensure that owners responsible for contamination no longer have the option of leaving their sites idle rather than meet their cleanup obligations. Each of these changes will be undertaken in consultation with DEP's partners in brownfield redevelopment: the Office of Smart Growth and other offices of the Department of Community Affairs; the Economic Development Administration and other offices of the Department of Commerce, the State Planning Commission, the Brownfields Taskforce, municipalities, and interested constituencies.


The term "brownfield" refers to abandoned, idled, or underutilized industrial or commercial sites where expansion, redevelopment or reuse is complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination. Brownfield sites may also include sites that were once heavily contaminated and where cleanup has been completed but redevelopment has not been initiated.
The term "smart growth area" means the State's urban, suburban and rural population centers, the revitalization of which is essential to the prevention of sprawl and the degradation of natural and agricultural resources and environmental quality. Smart growth areas shall be identified in coordination with the Office of Smart Growth in the Department of Community Affairs, the Economic Development Administration in the Department of Commerce, the State Planning Commission, municipalities, and interested constituencies.


The Department shall implement the following measures prospectively to encourage the remediation and reuse of brownfield sites, particularly in smart growth areas:

Reducing Regulatory Uncertainty

  1. Office of Brownfield Reuse: The Department shall establish, within the Site Remediation Program, an Office of Brownfield Reuse. This Office shall serve as the focal point for the Department's brownfield programs, and shall be charged with informing the public and those interested in brownfield reuse about these programs. Furthermore, this Office shall develop and implement new policies and programs to encourage brownfield remediation and reuse, shall set priorities among brownfield sites that may be appropriate for accelerated cleanup and redevelopment and shall directly oversee the remediation of high priority brownfield projects identified by the Department.

  2. Liability Reform: The Department shall not assert liability for damages or compensatory restoration against non-liable brownfield developers at sites at which there is historical natural resource injury. This policy shall not diminish responsibility for restoration actions that are inherent in remedial activity.

  3. No Further Action Letters: The Department shall issue No Further Action Letters for soils when remediation of soils at a brownfield property is complete, but groundwater contamination may remain. The Department shall also issue No Further Action Letters for groundwater when a Classification Exception Area has been established for a brownfield site and natural attenuation has been approved as the appropriate remedial action.

  4. Letting Developers Get to Closing: The Department shall permit non-liable brownfield developers to perform, as necessary, a well survey, potable well sampling and analysis, and a determination of groundwater flow direction, promptly after purchasing a brownfield property, rather than requiring such developers to perform these activities prior to purchase. The procedures of current and proposed technical regulations and manuals shall conform to this policy.

Aligning Regulatory and Redevelopment Objectives and Timetables

  1. Areawide Brownfield Reuse Program: The Department shall establish an areawide brownfield development program that will enable communities to plan comprehensively for the remediation and reuse of multiple brownfield sites. The Department will assist these communities through coordinated remediation oversight of the brownfield properties and assist with coordination of relevant programs both within the Department and within other federal and state agencies. The first sites selected for this program shall be in Camden, Elizabeth, and Trenton, with further sites to be selected through application to the Department. This program shall complement other applicable brownfield programs and incentives.

  2. Expanded Use of Market Tools: The Department shall encourage the use of financial and market instruments to help manage and allocate financial risks associated with the uncertainties of complex and long-term cleanups while providing communities with greater assurance that cleanup requirements will be met. These may include the use of sureties, insurance products, and trust fund mechanisms to: a) manage or reduce risks of uncertainty concerning potential costs of future remedial decisions; b) allow brownfield developers of single sites in areas affected by ubiquitous groundwater contamination to resolve their groundwater liability through establishment of a groundwater trust for DEP to use for future and comprehensive groundwater remediation efforts; c) ensure the reliability of institutional and engineering controls and, where appropriate, to reduce the burden on the regulated community of maintaining these controls; and d) otherwise provide greater certainty to potential developers and greater assurance to communities that cleanup needs will be met.

  3. "Cleanup Star" Program: The Department shall develop a "Cleanup Star "program to reform the role of environmental consultants and to accelerate brownfield site redevelopment. This program shall include the following elements:

    1. Following reasonable public notice of selection criteria and expected qualifications, DEP will establish a list of pre-qualified consultant professionals sufficiently qualified to oversee remedial work with minimal oversight.

    2. For developers and responsible parties willing to select and fund the use of consultant professionals from the pre-qualified list and provide by contract with the consultant that the consultant will act at the direction of DEP, DEP will make use of the consultant to expedite remedial analysis, evaluation, and decisions.

    3. DEP will make this option available initially at sites presenting relatively low or moderate risk and less complex cleanup challenges.

    4. DEP shall develop appropriate auditing requirements and other safeguards to ensure that public health and environmental standards are rigorously enforced, and that pre-qualified professionals who perform inadequate work are removed from the list promptly.

    5. DEP shall convene an advisory group of interested constituencies and appropriate representatives of interested labor organizations to oversee and guide implementation of this initiative.

    6. The DEP labor-management committee shall audit the program annually to ensure that it is not used to reduce or divert the internal staffing and resources devoted to site remediation.

  4. Technical Review Panel: The Department shall establish a technical review panel, comprised of senior DEP technical staff, to expedite final cleanup decisions where remedial action has been delayed or potentially may be delayed by disagreements between brownfield developers (or other responsible parties) and DEP case managers on the best approach to meeting standards and technical requirements to protect public health and the environment.

Expanding Potential Reuses of Brownfield Sites

  1. Brownfields to Greenfields: The DEP Office of Brownfield Reuse shall coordinate with the Green Acres Program, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, municipal officials, and community and environmental leaders to identify opportunities to pilot new potential reuses of brownfield sites. This effort shall focus particularly on identifying brownfield sites that may be used for residential development projects, for local and regional parks, for recreation areas, for off-road vehicle use areas, and for natural resource restoration. Where bona fide conservation groups have an interest in stewardship at sites being restored for these purposes, DEP shall develop appropriate prospective purchaser agreements to address potential liability arising from ownership. The Office of Brownfield Reuse shall identify at least two "brownfield to greenfield" pilots over the next twelve (12) months.

Promoting Cleanup and Re-use of "Warehoused" Sites

  1. Zero Tolerance for "Warehousing": Where industrial owners of contaminated brownfield sites have chosen to "warehouse" the properties by leaving them abandoned and avoiding or delaying remediation, the Department shall assist impacted communities to ensure that a beneficial reuse occurs. Where appropriate, the Department shall utilize its enforcement authorities to require remediation. Where a municipality determines to acquire a warehoused property through condemnation, the Department shall, in appropriate circumstances, partner with the municipality a) by allowing the municipality to assume a lead role in implementing remedial action, b) by providing appropriate assurances concerning the scope of liability, and c) by ensuring that responsible parties pay for the cost of remediation.

The Assistant Commissioner for site remediation shall report to the Commissioner on progress and achievements in implementing this directive on or before January 1, 2004.
This directive is a statement of policy intended for the fair and efficient administration of the Department of Environmental Protection and shall not be construed to create any legal or equitable rights or to provide the basis for any judicial or administrative remedy.


Date: November 25, 2002 _________________
  Bradley M. Campbell
Department of Environmental Protection

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 25, 2002