Senator Bob Smith

Improving New Jersey

LSRPs take steps to bring properties back to use

LSRPs Gain Insights at Two-Day Conference

In a city defined by revitalization, New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill praised LSRPs and New Jersey’s site remediation program for making much of the rebuilding of his city possible.

Cahill and Christopher Paladino, president of New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), pointed to projects throughout the city to illustrate significant accomplishments of LSRPs and New Jersey’s Site Remediation Program. It was one of the highlights of the LSRPA inaugural Site Remediation Conference, held for two days at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick. More than 460 people attended the conference for insight and continuing education classes.

Since New Jersey approved the Site Remediation Reform Act in 2009, state Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, said LSRPs have helped complete more than 11,000 remediations in every area of the state. The work has been performed “faster and less expensively” than under the previous system, he said in an address to the conference.

NJDEP Assistant Commissioner Mark Pedersen, who leads the site remediation program, said LSRPs have helped the state continue to clean difficult sites without losing any quality in the work performed.

At the conference, Rodger A. Ferguson, Jr., incoming LSRPA president for 2018, summarized the association’s 2018 goals and thanked outgoing president, John Oberer, LSRP of GZA. A LSRP since 2009, Ferguson is the president of PennJersey Environmental Consulting in Milford.

The LSRPA membership selected one new member to serve on the board: Erin Palko, LSRP of Integral Consulting Inc. She replaces Oberer, who decided not to serve the second year of his term.

LSRPA Awards 2018 Elmeryl Davies Memorial Scholarships

By Benjamin Alter, LSRP, GZA GeoEnvironmental

The LSRPA has awarded five highly qualified college students the Elmeryl Davies Memorial Scholarship.

This is the third year in which the LSRPA awarded scholarships, each worth $2,000. The scholarship is named after the late wife of Julian Davies, one of the founding members of the LSRPA.

To qualify for the scholarship, students must be in their junior or senior year of a four-year accredited geoscience or engineering program and interested in pursuing a career in the environmental field. The applicants were evaluated based on their academic achievements, their work experience and involvement in other activities, academic and professional references, and a statement of their career goals.

Here are the five recipients of the Elmeryl Davies Memorial Scholarships:

  • Melissa Barnes, junior at Susquehanna University, is double majoring in earth and environmental science, and environmental studies.
  • Sophia Blanc, junior at Rutgers – New Brunswick, is majoring in civil and environmental engineering.
  • Yonesha Donaldson, senior at Rutgers – Newark, is a geoscience/environmental science major, with a minor in biology.
  • Shannon Gillman, a senior at Rutgers – Newark, and is majoring in geoscience engineering.
  • Jalise Wright also is a senior at Rutgers – Newark, and is majoring in geosciences, with a minor in computer science.

Lessons Learned on the Way to 10,000 RAOs

By John Oberer, LSRP, GZA GeoEnvironmental, LSRPA Past President

Last month, without fanfare, LSRPs in the State of New Jersey issued their 11,000th Response Action Outcome (RAO), but it hasn’t always been easy.

Since the program was created in 2009, LSRPs and the NJDEP knew a culture change was needed if the program was going to work. Here are a few things we’ve all learned that I think surprised us all.

  • The professional judgment that LSRPs are supposed to demonstrate was ill defined and needed on-the-job experience. In the beginning of the program, professional judgment quickly became a completely conservative approach for many. It is now moving towards reasonableness, now that the program has its feet under it and there is a case record LSRPs can rely on. And truth be told, the NJDEP, by working in a compliance assistance mode, has been instrumental in helping LSRPs learn the standard of care that is expected.
  • Some responsible parties did not take the 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) and its requirements seriously. Before then, recalcitrant responsible parties sometimes tried to ignore the state requirements. Now, NJDEP has adopted a new way of bringing recalcitrant responsible parties to the table – the municipal summons to appear in court. When a recipient of one of these summonses appears, they make arrangements with NJDEP to comply in front of a judge. Time will tell, though, whether this practice will continue.
  • Some sites, closed before the SRRA, are being reopened. There are many reasons for this. Some of these sites don’t meet current standards and new work means they are being reopened by LSRPs. These cases are working their way through the system now and will eventually get corrected.
  • Some LSRPs had no access to resources to exchange ideas and develop new approaches to problems. This is where the LSRPA has worked to fill a significant gap. Its Sounding Board and monthly members-only breakfasts provide a forum for professionals to meet and exchange ideas. The LSRPA has also become a great peer resource for those who are active and contribute to it.

These unexpected issues have made for interesting anecdotes along the way. But the program has adapted and some improvements are being suggested for the SRRA statute itself by the LSRPA and other organizations.

NJ Environmental Laws Hold Developers to a High Standard

By Charlene Drake, LSRP, Langan Engineering

Since the SRRA, many of the cleanups completed have happened on brownfields sites, which have since been redeveloped.

This revitalization is spurred by economic incentives and the SRRA, as well as the oversight of environmental cleanups by LSRPs to help complete work in predictable timeframes.

The velocity and volume of environmental remediation hasn’t lowered the standards for protection of human health and the environment, which are set by the NJDEP. In fact, many developers feel the bar has been raised. So, why are so many deals getting done?

Developer George Vallone of Hoboken Brownstone agrees the LSRPs are holding the redevelopment community to a high standard. But the predictability of when work will be done in the LSRP program means more redevelopment can occur, he said. Before SRRA, many projects languished for years while awaiting reviews by overworked NJDEP staff.

“The cost of capital, over the time it’s deployed, is the biggest cost in most redevelopment budgets. My world is a much better place since SRRA became law,” Vallone said. “In the pre-LSRP world, it was impossible to predict the timeframe to complete this early stage work. Uncertainty about environmental completion timeframes created a risk premium that increased capital’s cost, which often was the difference between go and no-go decisions.”

“With LSRP oversight, there is much less uncertainty about timeframes, and by having a more thorough site investigation, the end result is more predictable,” Vallone said.

LSRPs and the regulated community have worked together with NJDEP by offering LSRPs the opportunity to have Technical Advisory Consultations (TACs) to explore applying innovative practices. These TACs encourage LSRPs to apply the latest best practices and technology to environmental cleanups. While SRRA and associated technical requirements establish remedial goals, technical guidance documents, developed by NJDEP in collaboration with LSRPs and other stakeholder groups, provide an evolving framework for how remedial goals can be accomplished.

These guidance documents are a resource for the latest science, such as advances in laboratory analysis and the latest risk evaluation and remediation technologies. These documents provide a means for applying the best remediation strategies to comply with environmental rules while moving cleanup projects forward in a timely and efficient manner.

The SRRA sets a high bar for LSRPs and their developer clients. However, it also provides them with the flexibility to choose remedial options and project schedules that work for them. This drives site remediation forward and provides a powerful combination of environmental protection and faster turnover of contaminated sites. The strategy is working because it accelerates remediation and redevelopment of New Jersey’s many contaminated sites while protecting the public and the environment.

EMERGING CONTAMINANT Remediation: PFAS – a Tough (and complex) Nut

By Lisa K. Voyce, Professional Associate, HDR

As state and federal regulators evaluate potential concerns about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in soil, groundwater and drinking water, more methods are being evaluated to best remove and dispose of the compounds.

PFAS compounds are typically mobile, non-reactive, stable and persist in the environment, which makes remediation difficult. The individual compound chain length and functional group (e.g., carboxylic or sulfonic acids) largely determine the toxicity and degradability of PFAS compounds, as well as their water solubility. Common co-contaminants include petroleum hydrocarbons, metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

PFAS do not volatilize readily, so air stripping and similar methods won’t work. PFAS can also contain precursor compounds that can degrade to more persistent products, making things worse. Understanding which PFAS are present, their chemical properties, site-specific source and hydrogeological conditions, as well as potential impacts to human receptors like supply wells, or ecosystems, are all necessary to determine an acceptable remedy.

The National Ground Water Association released guidance on groundwater and PFAS remediation and treatment in January 2018. The Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council continues to release and update online fact sheets on PFAS site characterization, remediation and related topics. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Contaminated Site Clean-Up Information (CLU-IN) website also provides additional information on remediation technologies.

Untangling Commingled Plumes

By Mark D. Fisher, LSRP, The ELM Group, LSRPA Past President

In April 2017, the NJDEP released the highly anticipated Commingled Plume Technical Guidance Document. Prepared utilizing the NJDEP’s technical guidance stakeholder process, it provides guidance and case studies to help illustrate how the guidance could be applied to various commingled plume scenarios.

A commingled plume exists when groundwater plumes originating from two or more discrete discharges have mixed and remediation performed on one affects the remediation of the other. There are many variations of commingled plumes. It gets even more complicated when dealing with a commingled soup of similar contaminants versus contaminants that are clearly different.

Once the commingled plume is identified, how do you complete the remediation for just your part of the plume? The guidance document promotes the development of multiple lines of evidence to support the remedial decision-making process and provides some suggested technical approaches to establish these lines of evidence. The guidance encourages parties to work together to remediate the commingled plumes, which is ideal, but often not reality.

Completing the remediation independent of other parties may result in additional costs to collect the necessary lines of evidence. However, if other plumes are also addressed as a result of completing your remediation, it may be possible to recover costs through litigation. There is usually a risk-reward evaluation given the costs associated with litigation.

The guidance document also includes information regarding other potential resolution mechanisms, such as mediation, arbitration, and, as noted, litigation.

The guidance presents the administrative requirements when dealing with commingled plumes and how to deal with commingled plumes identified after the issuance of a Remedial Action Permit. The new permit abeyance option allows certain permit monitoring requirements to be “put on hold” until such time that conditions warrant resuming monitoring or permit termination.

Parties must be mindful that regardless of how long it takes to resolve a commingled plume condition, all receptors must be investigated and protected within the applicable timeframes. For example, if a vapor intrusion (VI) issue is identified and the source of the discharge is unclear, the investigation and mitigation of the VI condition must still be completed. The NJDEP can be consulted for assistance if the source is documented to be not associated with your site.

Compliance Averaging – A Technical and Legal Perspective

By Kassidy Klink, LSRP, Peak Environmental LLC and Robert H. Crespi, Esq., Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi

Compliance averaging is a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) approved alternative method for demonstrating compliance with remediation standards.

Compliance averaging acknowledges that the data environmental professionals collect in defining a property can vary substantially due to a multitude of factors, and provides an opportunity to prove that singular data points may not reflect conditions across the site. In this mathematical approach, the site is conservatively divided into “functional areas” for the purpose of assessing risk.

In the case of property transactions, redevelopment projects, and properties underlain by historic fill, compliance averaging can be a useful alternative to remediation as well as a way forward to move more deals from ideas to redevelopment.

Although compliance averaging is allowable by NJDEP and satisfies existing guidance and rules, since some isolated contaminated soils are left in place, some clients may have questions concerning how it may be perceived by a potential buyer or seller, opposing counsel, a future environmental consultant, a lender and the public.

Many of these issues may be solved through the education of these stakeholders of the compliance averaging process, why it makes sense from all sides, and why it is a better alternative than other remediation techniques.

However, in the event there is still ambivalence, some additional activities could be implemented, such as to:

  • Dispose of limited soils with the highest detected concentrations, regardless of regulatory necessity.
  • Turn over surface impacted soils such that they aren’t readily accessible.
  • Cap limited areas of the property where potential receptors may be located, such as future day care centers, residences and schools.

All these potential methods, which must be evaluated for each site, meet the requirements of protecting the public and the environment.

The flexibility offered by compliance averaging with respect to the investigation and remediation of a site has proven to be a useful and cost-effective method to facilitate transactions and remediation of brownfield sites in New Jersey.

NJDEP Adjusts Direct Oversight Requirements

By Candace Baker, LSRP, Langan Engineering

The Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (ARRCS) Rules – the 2009 regulations created to institute the SRRA – say when a responsible party misses certain reporting timeframes or is the subject of enforcement action, their site enters NJDEP direct oversight.

Direct oversight is automatic and has no official notice or directive from NJDEP. Recently, however, the NJDEP has clarified what it means to be in direct oversight and developed a program to provide some relief for those who comply with its requirements.

Those who find themselves in direct oversight must hire a LSRP. However, the remediation will be overseen by the NJDEP. Remediation will require submission of a feasibility study, remediation cost review, and a public participation plan. In addition, the responsible party must establish a remediation trust fund, obtain NJDEP approval for disbursements from the trust fund, and pay an annual remediation funding source surcharge.

The NJDEP now allows responsible parties who have met the above requirements to “earn adjustments” to the direct oversight requirements. Responsible parties can apply for an Adjusted Direct Oversight Administrative Consent Order that will establish the terms of the adjustments and establish new timeframes for remediation.

The NJDEP may offer the following adjustments:

  • Change the remediation trust fund to another funding mechanism (other than self-guarantee).
  • Allow the responsible party to proceed with an LSRP-guided remediation and protective remedy for the site without NJDEP pre-approval. Although pre-approval is not required, the NJDEP will still maintain oversight.
  • Pay annual remediation fees instead of direct oversight costs.
  • Waive the feasibility study requirement.

The NJDEP must still review all submittals for sites in direct oversight. If a responsible party fails to comply with the terms of the consent order, any adjustments will be rescinded and the responsible party may be subject to penalties.

For those wishing to purchase a site which is in direct oversight, the NJDEP offers a Pre-Purchaser Administrative Consent Order, which must be signed prior to property closing. Because direct oversight applies to the site, not the responsible party, this allows the purchaser the option to remediate the site without some of the more onerous requirements. To be eligible, the purchaser cannot have any history with the site or be related to the responsible party.

With or without adjustments, direct oversight ends only when a Response Action Outcome (RAO) has been issued for the site, indicating no further action is required.

Where did that come from?! When Less is More

By Theodoros “Ted” Toskos, PG, LSRP, Woodard & Curran

One of my first projects as an LSRP was an Industrial Site Recovery Act case for a light industrial facility in southern New Jersey. It was supposed to be a simple, easy project, and a lot of the work was already completed. Everything made sense and was consistent with what I had expected, until a chlorinated compound, tetrachloroethylene (PCE) was detected in groundwater.

There had been only one operator at the site, and PCE was not used in its manufacturing. Just in case, I read through two huge binders of Material Safety Data Sheets, and PCE did not appear even once (neither did any other chlorinated compounds, for that matter).

Since you can only tell so much from two or three data points, we collected additional, strategically placed, soil and groundwater samples. PCE was detected in groundwater samples but not in soil samples. A groundwater flow net analysis did not connect the detections with any known or potential areas of concern, and the highest concentrations were at the leading edge of the plume.

Both the buyer and the seller wanted us to quickly collect more samples, but it was clear that more samples would not help. It was time to do a deep dive into the facts.

None of the operation’s signature compounds were detected in soil or groundwater. In fact, PCE in groundwater was the only compound detected anywhere at the site, and the groundwater flow net clearly showed the contaminated groundwater originated from the adjacent property.

Going back to historical air photos, no features on the site suggested storage, handling, disposal of materials, or evidence of any activity in the area where PCE was detected. The same photography showed storage and significant activity on the neighbor’s property, pointing in the same direction as the groundwater flow net. Historical records showed a large fire on the neighbor’s property and operations would have involved the use of solvents.

Finally, it all made sense. The release was a one-time event, maybe during the fire, on the neighboring property. That explained the shape and directionality of the plume, and why there was no PCE in the soils over the plume. With that, I was able to issue the RAO, indicating no further action was required, and close the case.

This goes to show why a good Conceptual Site Model, a few hours of research, and delving into the data will get you a lot further than a whole lot of drilling and sampling.


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