site remediation program
2001 Brownfields Update

SRP Publications Brownfields Reports 2001

Investment Potential and Reuse Opportunities Encouraging Cleanup and Redevelopment at New Jersey Brownfields Sites

This is an exciting time in the brownfield marketplace. Brownfield sites previously overlooked for years in New Jersey are now seen as some of the most encouraging in terms of investment potential and reuse opportunities. New Jersey’s goal is simple: solving environmental problems and providing businesses a place to locate, create jobs, to build housing and entertainment venues, all without having to go into farmlands, open space and other areas that lack existing infrastructure.

NJDEP is committed to helping parties reuse contaminated sites by ensuring required investigation and cleanup activities, also known as remediation, fit within the overall plans of developers, businesses, local officials and community residents. Municipalities and developers have been actively involved in the program for several years as improved liability protection for these parties emerged along with an ability to quantify and recover some cleanup costs.

This brownfields update not only illustrates several successful redevelopment projects, but also depicts various aspects of the state’s remedial program related to assisting parties involved with brownfield site cleanup and reuse. A listing at the end of the report highlights municipalities that have received state funds for remedial work at brownfield sites. These towns work under memorandum of agreements with NJDEP to perform remedial work that results in data required to successfully market such properties to private developers or implement public reuse projects such as community parks.

While NJDEP’s focus for brownfields reuse is cleaning up past contamination, other issues—available infrastructure, transportation, financing, taxes, work force, insurance, community needs and market forces—also impact opportunities for economic redevelopment. A brownfield site inventory developed by NJDEP includes more than 1,300 sites, which is a subset of the complete inventory of sites maintained by the Department’s Site Remediation Program, and continues to grow as new projects are identified as brownfield sites.

The Voluntary Cleanup Program facilitates contaminated site cleanups by private parties and municipalities at locations that have become desirable either for redevelopment or to allow a property transaction to occur. The cornerstone of the program is a Memorandum of Agreement that allows a party to voluntarily approach the Department with the intent to investigate and clean up a contaminated site. Each year a portion of these voluntary cleanup agreements the Department approves includes a new group of brownfield projects. Private parties responsible for contamination at a site also have worked with NJDEP to conduct remedial work and effect reuse of a property as a brownfield site. However, these responsible parties operate under different oversight agreements with the Department and liability provisions are not the same for dischargers.

Voluntary Cleanup Remedial Process

The voluntary cleanup agreement basically is a contract established between the Department and a party electing to perform the work, but it is not an enforcement document. This means that parties can volunteer to conduct cleanups without the threat of punitive provisions, which in the past may have discouraged such efforts. Specifically, the voluntary cleanup agreements have an out clause, do not require the posting of financial assurances and do not include stipulated penalties. The Procedures for Department Oversight of the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (N.J.A.C. 7:26C) established the oversight mechanisms available at NJDEP, most notably the Memorandum of Agreement.

The Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (N.J.A.C. 7:26E) provide the regulatory framework for which remedial activities outlined in voluntary agreements will be performed. These requirements establish the minimum criteria for performing preliminary assessments, site investigations and remedial actions. With its ground water and surface water remediation standards set for proposal, NJDEP uses soil cleanup criteria and is developing soil cleanup standard regulations.

Brownfield and Contaminated Site Act

The Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act signed into law on January 6, 1998 provides for the latest changes in New Jersey’s environmental cleanup guidance. The Act, formally part of Senate Bill Number 39 (Public Law 1997, c.278), adds new provisions that advance brownfields cleanup and reuse as part of a comprehensive program for urban redevelopment. The overall law amends the Spill Compensation and Control Act, Industrial Site Recovery Act, Environmental Opportunity Zone Act and other key statutes.

The most important liability provisions of the 1998 law are that it protects buyers not responsible for the contamination at tainted sites from private lawsuits and from having to perform additional cleanup work, both related to past contamination problems, if they clean up the site in accordance with NJDEP regulations. Such buyers also must not be a party responsible for the site’s original pollution problems. In July 1999, the Site Remediation Program adopted amendments to four of its rules to implement the legislation. Further amendments to the Technical Requirements are scheduled to be proposed November 2001 that provide additional clarification to the remedial process.

The brownfield act also established a Brownfields Redevelopment Task Force to coordinate state policy on brownfields redevelopment, including marketing sites, regulatory programs, provision of infrastructure, and redevelopment planning assistance to local governments. The task force includes five members from state agencies, including NJDEP’s Site Remediation Program, and six members of the public, and receives staff support from the Office of State Planning. Regular meetings of the Task Force are held quarterly and are open to the public.

EPA Funded Site Assessment Projects and Grant Recipients

NJDEP is using federal monies to conduct preliminary assessments and site investigations in several cities. Site Remediation Program staff acting as brownfield coordinators also provide site information to local officials who are marketing properties to potential developers.

Moreover, the Department is continuing coordination with 19 cities and counties and one development district that have received federal brownfield grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Department has assigned staff to act as individual coordinators to help local officials deal with the vast issues associated with the remediation and redevelopment of brownfields and the implementation of these grants. The EPA brownfield grant recipients are:

  • Atlantic City,
  • Camden, Elizabeth,
  • Essex County,
  • Gloucester City,
  • Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission District,
  • Hudson County,
  • Jersey City,
  • Long Branch,
  • Middlesex County,
  • Morris County,
  • Newark,
  • Orange,
  • Paterson,
  • Pennsauken Township,
  • Perth Amboy,
  • Phillipsburg,
  • Somerset County,
  • Trenton
  • and Union County.

This process allows the cities and counties to identify and assess various sites and neighborhoods that they would like to see cleaned up and redeveloped as well as develop strategies for continued implementation of brownfield projects.

The cities and counties each received $200,000 to facilitate this process. The City of Trenton received a showcase community designation from EPA that has brought more than $1 million in federal funds and support by other federal agencies. Continued Department assistance for these select cities and counties will remain a priority for New Jersey in helping move EPA brownfields pilot projects forward.

Site assessment staff in the Site Remediation Program recently have been developing sampling plans for several properties in the City of Vineland. Soil and ground water sampling is scheduled for 2001 that will provide city officials with relevant data to help quantify any remedial costs associated with redeveloping the properties selected.

Remediation Loans and Grants

Municipalities may apply for grants and loans up to $2 million per year for investigation and cleanup activities from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) plays a key role in financing these grants and loans, working with NJDEP to cover eligible costs and provide loan servicing. Grants are specifically provided to municipalities for a preliminary assessment (PA) and site investigation (SI) when a municipality holds the tax sales certificate, has foreclosed or voluntarily acquired a property for redevelopment. Municipalities may obtain money to proceed with the remedial investigation (RI) if they own the property. If after conducting the PA/SI/RI a municipality wants to conduct the cleanup, low interest loans are available. Using data from these activities, local officials can develop cost estimates of any cleanup work required at a site, thereby improving the property’s marketability.

Private parties required to perform remedial activities and individuals who want to conduct such actions voluntarily may qualify for loans of up to $1 million per year if they are unable to obtain private funding. Since 1994 more than $43 million in funding has been disbursed to municipalities for more than 500 projects and $31.9 million to private parties for 251 projects. These monies come from a fund created when the State Legislature supported this effort by dedicating a portion of a state Hazardous Waste Bond issue and a portion of New Jersey’s Economic Recovery Fund.

2nd Annual
Deal Flow Conference

Coming in Spring 2002

Sponsored by:

  • NJ Department of Environmental Protection
  • PA Department of Environmental Protection
  • National Brownfield Association

Call NJDEP at 609-292-1250
for more information.


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