Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA)

In 2009, New Jersey passed sweeping environmental reform known as the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA). SRRA dramatically changed the landscape for property owners responsible for completing environmental remediation. Per the requirements of SRRA, all environmental remediation will take place under the direction and authority of a licensed site remediation professional (LSRP) rather than the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). While the DEP will ensure that LSRPs are enforcing the rigorous technical requirements and time frames for site remediation set forth by SRRA and the technical regulations applicable to site cleanups, the DEP will no longer be responsible for the direct supervision of most site remediation projects.

Further, the DEP will no longer issue No Further Action letters. Rather, when a site has been remediated and is in compliance with all applicable statues, rules and regulations, the LSRP in charge of monitoring the site will issue what is known as a Response Action Outcome ("RAO"). RAOs will be accompanied by a Covenant Not to Sue (CNS) which will release the property owner from civil liability resulting from environmental contamination but will be subject to certain limitations.

Despite the shifting of significant responsibility for clean-up oversight to LSRPs, the DEP will continue to play an important role in environmental remediation. It will be responsible for adopting mandatory remediation time frames and will conduct audits of LSRPs. The DEP will also have the authority to audit RAOs for up to three years, leaving property owners with significant uncertainty as to the extent of ongoing liability. The DEP will also have the authority to undertake direct oversight of remediation projects, which fail to meet mandatory time frames or are considered high priority. Finally, the DEP will have the power to impose presumptive remedies for projects involving sensitive populations, including residential uses, childcare centers and schools.

As SRRA has begun to be implemented, many uncertainties have emerged with respect to the efficiency of the system and the level of scrutiny the DEP will employ in oversight of LSRPs. Further, there is significant concern regarding the extent to which property owners can rely on RAOs given the length of the audit period. It is also unclear how the presumptive remedy process will work with respect to residential properties.

Experience. Dedication. Results.
Contact Morris, Downing & Sherred

The attorneys at Morris Downing & Sherred, LLP, are fully familiar with this new environmental regulatory scheme and are prepared to guide clients through the myriad issues that will continue to arise as it implemented statewide.

If you are ready to speak to an experienced environmental attorney who can assist you with your SRRA questions, we encourage you to contact us today. We can also be reached by phone at 973-383-2700.