Origins of the Site Remediation Program
From the Publicly Funded Cleanups Site
Status Report 2001 Introduction:
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, public
support for a coordinated cleanup effort and pioneering
state and federal laws enabled NJDEP to establish a progressive
program to address contaminated sites. Beginning with the
passage of the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control
Act in 1976, the state initiated the first program in the
country for the cleanup of contaminated sites that posed
a danger to human health and the environment. This program
became a national model. For the first time serious consideration
was given to reversing decades of industrial, commercial
and household waste mismanagement that resulted in discharges
of hazardous substances into the environment.
Following New Jerseys lead, the federal
government created a program to provide financial aid and
technical guidance in cleaning up the nations more
serious contaminated sites. Enacted in 1980, the law is
called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation
and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly known as Superfund.
This program was strengthened in 1986 by the Superfund Amendments
and Reauthorization Act (SARA).
As the universe of potentially contaminated
sites in New Jersey continued to increase from an original
inventory of about 1,200 sites, NJDEP expanded its cleanup
efforts to meet the challenges posed by a variety of pollution
problems. The passage of several key state laws facilitated
these endeavors, including the Environmental Cleanup Responsibility
Act (later replaced by the Industrial Site Recovery Act)
and the Underground Storage Tank Act. Also, a Voluntary
Cleanup Program started in 1993 facilitates cleanup of contaminated
sites, including many brownfield projects, by private parties
and municipalities under Site Remediation Program oversight.
The Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation
Act of 1998 further refined the overall remedial process
and stimulated cleanup and reuse of additional brownfield
sites. The inventory of sites maintained by the Site Remediation
Program for general reporting purposes includes more than
38,000 sites, of which more than 25,000 received No Further
Action designations from NJDEP as of December 31, 2001.