NAIOP: Paradigm Shift in Remediation Landscape

NEW BRUNSWICK—New Jersey’s site remediation landscape was altered dramatically with passage of the Site Remediation Reform Act, with upcoming March and May deadlines bringing mandatory changes in the way site remediation is performed. Among them: State-approved Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) will replace New Jersey DEP personnel in making site remediation decisions for individual projects. The changes were explored in-depth by industry experts at NAIOP New Jersey’s “Mandatory LSRP Update and Roundtables” program at the New Jersey Law Center.

The changes were necessitated by New Jersey DEP’s backlog of cases and other issues, explained panel moderator Jorge Berkowitz of Langan Engineering & Environmental Service, himself a former DEP official. “The agency became fraught with micro-managing, disparate expertise, and a lot of suspect documents. The program broke under its own weight.”

With a huge backlog of cases, said to number 14,000, DEP “looked at Massachusetts and modeled our LSRP program after theirs,” said Berkowitz. “LSRP is here now – May 7 will mark the complete conversion. Every project will be required to have an LSRP.”

Referring to the backlog of cases, “right now, there is a finite number of LSRPs—how will that impact the flow?” asked David Roth of Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis. “There won’t be a real bind because one-third of the pending cases currently have LSRPs,” Berkowitz responded.

In any event, “DEP will still be involved,” said Roth, noting that even under the new system, LSRPs will have to file all documents for DEP approval. DEP still has oversight. There is still a staff at DEP, and they will still be involved in cases.”

Addressing the topic of what to consider when retaining an LSRP, “they are your environmental general contractor,” explained Richard Ericsson of Cole Schotz Meisel Forman & Leonard. “They are your own regulator—their opinion will rule. Find someone who is smart, flexible, open to new ideas, and who has the right constitution and personality.

“Environmental science is still an art,” Ericsson said. “This is a big decision, and you have to trust that person.”

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