The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) took steps on April 24, 2020, to suspend the application of certain New Jersey Site Remediation Program (SRP) compliance deadlines. This was in response to numerous requests from the regulated community for such relief due to restrictions on workforce availability and business operations during the state’s current COVID-19-related state of emergency and the shelter-in-place orders issued by Governor Phil Murphy under his March 9, 2020, Executive Order No. 103 (EO-103).
Under authority granted to the NJDEP by EO-103, NJDEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe approved a Notice of Rule/Waiver/Modification/Suspension, calling for a temporary extension of certain SRP regulatory and mandatory timeframes for an initial period of 90 days, and reserving the right to further extend the waiver period based on the duration of the state of emergency. The Temporary Rule Modification specifically concerns the Administrative Rules for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (ARRCS) and the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (TRSR). The NJDEP expressly noted that it has the flexibility and ability to extend the timeframes beyond the extensions set forth in its notice so that it can respond to site- and situation-specific circumstances if necessary.
The modification is retroactive to March 9, 2020, the effective date of EO-103, and will remain in effect until the expiration or revocation of EO-103, or until otherwise revoked by the NJDEP. The 90-day extension applies only to those timeframes that have occurred or will occur while EO-103 is in effect, including:
- Mandatory Remediation Timeframes relating to Preliminary Assessments/Site Investigations (PA/SIs) set pursuant to the Industrial Site Recovery Act, N.J.S.A. 13:1K-6 et seq.; Initial Receptor Evaluations; Immediate Environmental Condition source control; completion of Remedial Investigations (RIs) for light non-aqueous phase liquids (LNAPLs); and completion of RIs and the submission of RI Reports for contaminated sites.
- Expedited Site-Specific Timeframes
- Regulatory Timeframes relating to LNAPL Interim Remedial Measures, Initial Receptor Evaluations, PA/SIs, the completion of RIs and the submission of RI Reports for contaminated sites and underground storage tanks, and the implementation of Remedial Actions (RAs) and the submission of RA Reports (RARs).
- Regulatory Remedial Action Timeframes relating to the submission of RARs and the completion of RAs.
The NJDEP will consider requests by the person responsible for conducting the remediation for further extensions of the timeframes listed above and other timeframes on a case-by-case basis.
The Department has also reserved the right to waive, suspend, or relax any other provisions of the ARRCS and/or TRSR (including provisions set forth in any permit or other approval document) on a case-by-case or site-specific basis provided the NJDEP finds such action to be:
- Necessary to ensure the continued management of remediation activities and supporting services;
- Narrowly tailored to include only necessary modifications to address circumstances created by or directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Applied consistently to similarly situated entities and individuals; and
- Limited to the period in which EO-103 is in effect.