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Site Remediation News June 1999 (Vol 11 N0 1) Article 04

Revisions to the Soil Cleanup Criteria

By: Barry Frasco,
Hazardous Site Science Element

Soil Cleanup Criteria (SCC) were first published in the April 1993 issue of the Site Remediation News (Volume 5, Number 1). The SCC were revised in April 1994 (Site Remediation News, Volume 6, Number 1) and a revised lead criterion was added in 1995 (Site Remediation News, Volume 7, Number 1).

These criteria have been provided to the regulated community as an interim guide in assessing contaminated/potentially contaminated sites pending Department promulgation of soil remediation/cleanup standards. The Department’s Site Remediation Program is currently in the process of developing soil remediation standards in accordance with the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10B-12. The Department anticipates that a Draft Rule Framework will be prepared for Interested Party Review and Comment by the fall of 1999. As such, the Department has determined not to make large-scale revisions to the SCC prior to the Interested Party Review.

However, the Department, based on the reasons noted below, is making four (4) revisions to the SCC, which are effective immediately. These revisions are:

  1. Addition of soil cleanup criteria for trivalent and hexavalent chromium – Soil cleanup criteria for trivalent and hexavalent chromium were announced by the Department in September 1998. While these criteria have been in existence for over six months and are available on the Site Remediation Program Web Site (, they had not been incorporated into the main SCC document.

  2. Increase in the xylene soil Impact to Ground Water criterion – The change in the Department’s Drinking Water Standard for xylene from 44 ug/l to 1000 ug/l resulted in a change of the soil impact to ground water to 67 mg/kg. While the Site Remediation Program has routinely allowed the use of the 67 mg/kg value, it has been via the Alternate Cleanup Standard (ACS) process. The Department recognizes that the use of the ASC process to allow for the use of the new xylene impact to ground water criterion is an unnecessary administrative activity. As such, the new xylene impact to ground water criterion was been incorporated into the SCC document. However, it should be noted that the Department’s current policy to use a 10 mg/kg soil xylene concentration as a trigger for the collection of a ground water sample for BTEX compounds has not changed.

  3. Increase in the Residential Direct Contact SCC for cadmium – Using the USEPA equation for ingestion of noncarcinogenic contaminants, USEPA default parameter inputs and USEPA IRIS toxicity data, a residential direct contact soil concentration for cadmium of 39 mg/kg is derived. The Department has routinely allowed this approach for the development of an ACS for cadmium. As such, the Department has determined that the use of the ACS process to develop the 39 mg/kg soil criterion is an unnecessary administrative activity. Therefore, the SCC document has been revised to include the new residential direct contact value for cadmium. However, it should be noted that the new residential direct contact soil criterion may not be protective of ground water and an evaluation of site specific chemical and physical parameters is required to determine if there is any potential/actual impact to ground water. Because of this potential impact to ground water and that there have been no ACS requests for the Non-Residential land use scenario, the Non-Residential Direct Contact Soil Criterion for cadmium will remain at 100 mg/kg.

  4. Increase in the residential and Non-Residential Direct Contact SCC for beryllium – The Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10B-12g(4), states “Remediation shall not be required beyond the regional natural background levels for any particular contaminant.” The Site Remediation Program has reviewed numerous soil background determination submissions for beryllium where the natural background soil concentration was between 1mg/kg and 2mg/kg. Examination of background sample data from Fields, et al (1993) reveals that the 95th percentile value of the distribution of beryllium data is 2 mg/kg. The Department believes that this value is a reasonable determination of natural soil background for beryllium in New Jersey. This conclusion was also made in the Technical Basis and Background document (1992) that accompanied the 1992 proposed, but never adopted, soil cleanup standard regulations, N.J.A.C. 7:26D. In an effort to reduce the number of background soil determination submissions (which have been routinely approved), the SCC for beryllium has been changed to 2 mg/kg to reflect a general background level for the State of New Jersey.

As noted in the past, notwithstanding where the soil cleanup criteria are based on human health impacts, the Department shall still consider environmental impacts when establishing site specific cleanup criteria. This along with other site-specific factors including background conditions may result in site specific cleanup criteria which differ from the criteria listed in the SCC document. Therefore, the SCC list shall not be assumed to represent approval by the Department of any remedial action or to represent the Department’’ opinion that a site requires remediation.

Included is the newly revised Soil Cleanup Criteria document. This revised document is also available for review and downloading on the Site Remediation Program Web Site,


Fields, T., T. McNevin, R. Harkov and J. Hunter. 1993. A summary of selected soil constituents and contaminants at background locations in New Jersey. N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Publication.

NJDEP. 1992. Technical Basis and Background for Cleanup Standards for Contaminated Sites, N.J.A.C. 7:26D. USEPA 1996. Soil Screening Guidance: User’s Guide. EPA/540/R-96/018.

USEPA 1998. The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).

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