NJDEP Site Remediation Program - News

[Help] [NJ Home Page][NJDEP Home Page][SRP Home Page][SRP News]

Site Remediation News
January 1997 (Vol 9 No 1) - Article 02

Return to Table of Contents.

New Discharge Notification and Prevention Rule
By: Nate Byrd
Division of Responsible Party Site Remediation
Discharge Response Element
Bureau of Field Operations

The rule for notifying the Department "Hotline" of hazardous substance discharges and discharge prevention was recently readopted with revisions and appeared in the New Jersey Register on October 7, 1996. The revised rule, entitled "Discharges of Petroleum and Other Hazardous Substances" (N.J.A.C. 7:1E), implements the requirements of the Spill Compensation and Control Act (N.J.S.A. 58:10- 23.11 et seq.) that sets standards for discharge prevention, emergency responses, and mitigation of discharges. The old rule expired September 3, 1996.

Developed by the Department in concert with the De Minimis Task Force, a partnership of governmental agencies and the regulated community, the revisions are aimed at clarifying complex provisions of the old rule and simplifying discharge reporting procedures, while at the same time ensuring the protection of the public health and the environment. The task force was commissioned by Commissioner Robert C. Shinn, Jr., in November 1995.

Highlights of the readopted, less-burdensome rule include the following provisions:

  1. While small business owners or operators and homeowners are still required to report discharges to the DEP Hotline immediately, they are not required to submit discharge confirmation (follow-up) reports to the Department. However, all records of cleanup and removal actions must be maintained on-site.

  2. Releases of hazardous substances resulting from motor vehicle accidents that are contained on paved road-ways, do not impact either soil or water bodies, and are cleaned up and removed would not call for Hotline notification. Notification would be required for releases that have triggered other state or federal reporting requirements.

  3. Major facility (as explained below) owners and operators will keep cleanup records on site in lieu of Department notification. Discharges at these facilities that are contained on-site, have not impacted the waters of the state, or migrated off-site, and are cleaned up within 24 hours do not require notification to the Department. Although a 30-day discharge confirmation report to the Department would not be required for these discharges, facilities are required to maintain cleanup records on-site for 3 years and available for Department review. Again, this exclusion is not applicable if the discharge triggers other state or federal reporting requirements.

    For the purposes of this summary, major facilities are defined as those facilities with approved preventive emergency response plans: the discharge prevention, containment, and countermeasure (DPCC) and discharge cleanup and removal (DCR) plans pursuant to N.J.A.C.7:1E-4; or a risk management plan pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:31; or an emergency contingency plan pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:26-12; or a response plan pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations 40 CFR 112.

  4. Electric utilities are relieved of the immediate notification requirement for less-than-25-gallon transformer fluid releases provided the discharges have not entered any waters of the state or any storm drains leading to state water bodies, do not contain any polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs), and are cleaned up within 24 hours of discovery. In lieu of immediate Department notification of these limited discharges, utility workers responsible for these discharges are required to document cleanup and removal actions and maintain the records for three years.

Aside from the above-noted discharge reporting revisions, another notable provision of the new rule states that the DEP will no longer maintain the Discharge Cleanup Organization list of firms that register with the DEP to conduct cleanup services in the state.

Moreover, there are several additions and deletions of hazardous substances from the rule's Appendix A list of substances subject to discharge notification. Copies of the guidance document noting these changes are available from the Bureau of Discharge Prevention by calling (609) 633-0610.

It should be noted that the task force did not establish a de minimis quantity or a concentration of hazardous material under which reporting to the Hotline would be waived. The task force did not set a gallon or concentration de minimis level primarily because of the large number of chemicals included on the hazardous substance list and their wide range of characteristics and toxicity.

Finally, the rule indicates that all cleanup and removal actions should be conducted in accordance with the Remediation (Tech Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:26E) and reimburse the Division for the time and material it expends. The Division, in turn, agrees to dedicate its resources to provide oversight and technical guidance to those conducting the remediation. During Fiscal Year 1996 (FY96), a record 1,436 MOAs were entered into by parties wishing to voluntarily clean-up their sites, and nearly 1,200 MOAs were closed, with sites, or contaminated portions of sites cleaned up.

Regulated UST facilities in New Jersey reported approximately 600 releases from leaking tanks or their piping systems during FY96. Of these, as well as ongoing cleanups reported during prior fiscal years, 620 releases were cleaned-up and 2,880 cleanups of UST related contamination are currently underway.

Not all of the sites at which the DRPSR oversees clean-ups come in to the Department through the hotline. Pursuant to the Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), many industries in New Jersey are required to evaluate their property prior to sale, cessation of operations, etc. During FY96, approximately 620 industrial establishments performed this evaluation. Of these establishments, approximately 75 discovered they had areas in which a cleanup was necessary. Of these, as well as establishments that had entered the ISRA process prior to FY96, 65 sites had completed cleanups, with approximately 935 remediations currently under way.

During Fiscal Year 1996 (July 1995 - June 1996), the DRPSR fulfilled this mission utilizing a staff of 317. As of the end of FY96, the DRPSR was providing oversight for approximately 6,000 cases in New Jersey requiring cleanup. Over the years, DRPSR has had to initiate innovative approaches to provide oversight for so many cases. These include delegation of case-specific decision-making down to the case manager and supervisor level. The Bureau of Underground Storage Tanks has developed the "Cooperative Venture Program" in which the responsible parties of one or many sites can prioritize their sites with the Bureau and develop mutual schedules based on risk (see the Summer 1995 SRP Newsletter for a full description of this initiative). The result has been more expedient cleanups that are protective of the environment and public health. The Division has also worked hard to continue providing outreach in the form of informational speeches and training, further educating both the regulated community and the consulting firms that are conducting the clean-ups in this state. As a result of this outreach, the DRPSR has seen closer adherence to the technical requirements for the Site Remediation Program (7:26E), resulting in improved submittals of site evaluations, remediation plans, and remedial action reports. Overall, these improvements have resulted in fewer multiple reviews by the Division, a reduced need in having to go back and perform additional work, and a resultant cost savings to those conducting cleanups. The Division has also developed a closer working relationship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), resulting in a greater number of cases being overseen utilizing federal resources. For example, 39 emergency cases which met the criteria of the joint EPA-DEP Memorandum of Understanding were referred for EPA cleanup or oversight, saving the N.J. Spill Fund more than $2.3 million and countless DRPSR staff hours.

Assistance to parties responsible for cleanups that continued in FY96 included disbursement of low interest loans and grants, overseen by the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Authority. During FY96, 145 loans and grants were approved, with a total of $18,076,000 disbursed. Additionally, a refocus on intended land use has been undertaken (Brownfields Initiative), which has allowed for, among other things, capping of contamination where it could be shown that such a cap would be protective of human health and where groundwater would not be impacted. A prime example of this is the Mercer Waterfront Stadium, home of the Trenton Thunder AA professional baseball team.

For Fiscal Year 1997, we expect an increase in oversight work for the Division. This will require an even better prepared and educated staff, and a need for even better submittals from consultants servicing both the regulated community and residents of this State. Still, we remain optimistic that all priority sites will be remediated effectively and in a timely manner. As contaminated sites in New Jersey continue to be cleaned, as parties responsible for cleanups voluntarily come forward and do so, and as long as the DRPSR can continue to provide oversight, we will continue to see a cleaner New Jersey well into the future.

[Go to previous article] [Go to Table of Contents] [Go to next article]

| Disclaimers and Notices |

Call the DEP 24 Hour Hotline 609/292-7172 to Report Enviromental Incidents.

[NJ Home Page][NJDEP Home Page][SRP Home Page][SRP News]

Please send your comments regarding the design or function of the NJDEP SRP Web pages to:


Last revision: 2 Sept 97