Current Participation and Notification Procedures
Content last updated 18 June 2007
The Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) institutes its commitment
to protect the public health and the environment through a series of laws;
regulations to direct implementation of those laws; and companion policies
and practices that further underscore that commitment; and to provide
public access to information.
The Site Remediation and Waste Management Program (SRP) manages remediation
activities for NJDEP through various SRWM bureaus. The major laws and
regulations that govern those activities include:
Remedation activities under NJDEP oversight are conducted by responsible
parties as well as developers (collectively referred to as ‘RPs’)
or, absent a remediating party, are publicly funded. RP sites include
regulated underground storage tanks, industrial sites governed under the
ISRA legislation and individual homeowner tank cases, among others. Superfund
sites include both publicly funded and RP cases, and are jointly managed
by NJDEP and EPA.
Many RP cases come into the Department voluntarily through a Memorandum
of Agreement (MOA). Other cases are required to conduct remediation through
oversight documents such as Administrative Consent Orders (ACOs) and remediation
It is possible for responsible parties to conduct a cleanup ‘at
peril’ without NJDEP oversight. These 'at peril' cases will come
before NJDEP for final approvals and are obligated to follow the Technical
Requirements. When such work is found insufficient, the parties must revise
their remediation to come into compliance before the work can be approved.
Assessing and cleaning up sites where oil or hazardous substances have
been released into the environment, and understanding the processes followed
by SRP, requires interested citizens to work with complex technical and
scientific information. The SRP Office of Community Relations (OCR) assists
the public in accessing information, learning about the various SRP programs
and generally improving the opportunity for public involvement in site
Current Notification Practices
Historically, the Department selected the remedial action for some contaminated
sites. These could include sites subject to ACOs and those governed by
early remediation legislation. The New Jersey Legislature, however, through
the enactment of legislation in 1993, removed this authority from the
Department for remediation that the Department itself was not conducting.
That change allowed the owner or operator to select the remedial action.
This act, subsequently modified by the Brownfield and Contaminated Site
Remediation Act (BCSRA), places the burden on the person proposing the
remedial action to demonstrate that the remedial action is protective
of public health, safety and the environment, and otherwise conforms with
the requirements of that act. When that person is someone other than the
Department, the BCSRA directs NJDEP to establish a minimum level of risk
(1 in 1,000,000) as the threshold by which cleanup remedies will be judged
acceptable or not. While SRWM recognizes public comments and endeavors
to respond to those comments, when a proposed remedy shows that the risk
posed by the site post-cleanup is below that threshold, the law obligates
NJDEP to accept that remedy.
The Superfund legislation requires that the remediating parties give
the public a formal opportunity to comment on the proposed remedy. For
other publicly funded remediations in New Jersey, SRP generally solicits
public input on the remedy selection. The majority of cases in New Jersey
(over 95%) are privately funded (RP) cases and there is no NJ legislative
mandate to involve citizens directly in the remediation process for RP
The New Jersey Technical Requirements for Site Remediation have several
obligatory points of public communication, primarily notification of local
officials and property owners. Those regulations are described below.
- The party responsible for remediation (non-publicly funded sites)
must notify the municipal clerk of each municipality in which the site
is located 45 calendar days prior to
- submission of the remedial action selection report
- finalization of the engineering design plans for the selected
remedial action of sites being remediated, and
- implementation of the remedial action
- Based on the selected remedy, some sites will require institutional
and/or engineering controls, with corresponding notification provisions.
- A Classification Exception Area (CEA) may be established to ensure
notification of groundwater contamination. This ‘institutional
control’ requires the parties responsible for remediation
to send copies of certified letters to municipal and county clerks
and to designated local, county and regional health departments.
If the ground water classification exception area is located in
a ground water use area, property owners within the ground water
classification exception area must also be notified.
- A second institutional control that requires notification covers
instances where contaminated soils are left in place above their
applicable criteria. This is done through a deed notice. A deed
notice may include engineering controls (such as caps, covers, or
leachate collection systems). Once the deed notice is filed with
the county, parties responsible for the remediation are required
to copy a number of entities, including certain municipal officials,
designated local, county and regional health departments and anyone
requesting a copy.
- The Tech Regs mandate that the persons responsible for monitoring
the on-going protectiveness of a remedial action through engineering
and institutional controls submit a biennial certification. This
certification verifies that the engineering controls are being properly
maintained and the remedial action continues to be protective of
public health, safety and the environment. These notices must be
copied to municipal and county clerks, designated local, county
and regional health departments.
In addition to these regulatory requirements, it is Departmental practice
to direct notification to local entities, such as local police or designated
municipal officials, when calls come in to the DEP hotline. When cases
are closed by the Department a letter of ‘No Further Action’
goes to the persons responsible for the remediation and copies are typically
sent to municipal clerks, designated local, county and regional health
departments and other parties who have expressed interest. Communications
with parties known to have an interest in the site can also occur at other
significant remedial milestones, but is exercised on a case-by-case basis.
In cases where there is high public concern, NJDEP may also ask the parties
responsible for remediation to provide reports to the public through a
local repository, generally a community library.
Public Access to Information
As previously noted, current legislation precludes formal public input
on remedy selection. NJDEP accepts public comment on sites and responds
to concerns when they are raised to our attention. Although this is an
informal process, it offers concerned community members access to the
information they need.
The main point of access for SRP data is http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp.
A second key site is the Known Contaminated Site List, found online at http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/kcs-nj/,
which lists, by county and municipality, every contaminated site that
is before the department (as of 2001, when it was last updated). Site
information is also available graphically through the I-Map site at http://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/newmapping.htm.
A third key program is the Open Public Records Act, which allows for public
access to the case files. These include reports, correspondence and other
materials. Those seeking information about a particular site can request
to review the files for that case by filling out an OPRA request, which
is online and can be submitted electronically. The form can be found at http://www.nj.gov/dep/opra/forminfo.html.
Citizens planning to purchase residential property in New Jersey may
contact the Site Information Program for information about any contaminated
properties in an area in which they intend to purchase. Staff there accept
phone calls from prospective purchasers and provide them with information
and maps of the area showing any known contaminated sites within ¼
mile of the property.
The Office of Community Relations (OCR) responds to general and specific
questions about site remediation or specific sites. The staff welcome
opportunities to speak with concerned citizens and assist them in finding
information and the appropriate contacts for specific cases.
OCR works with various SRP programs to create guidance documents and
background materials. OCRT also hosts workshops on emerging issues. The
July 2004 workshop, Working with Communities, was an example of that outreach,
as were the two subsequent workshops on the proposed soil standards.
OCR recognizes the importance of community groups interested in site
remediation issues. Staff frequently participate actively with these groups.
Many of these are active at state-lead Superfund sites, cases where unknown
sources of contamination have affected area wells, and other high profile
publicly and privately funded cases. The OCR website, www.nj.gov/dep/srp/community,
provides regularly updated information on these cases.
Alternate Format: Adobe Acrobat [pdf 76 Kb]
"Documents provided on the Office of Community
Relations website define in non-technical language the more commonly
used environmental terms and concepts appearing in Site Remediation
Program publications, news releases, and other documents available
to the general public, students, the media, and state employees.
These documents do not have regulatory effect, and cannot be relied
upon in lieu of officially promulgated NJDEP rules and definitions
published in the New Jersey Register and the New Jersey Administrative