After several rounds of negotiations the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) was signed into law on May 7, 2009. I wrote about those negotiations in my blog: GreenPages-NJ. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed creation of the SRRA because of their concern that they did not have the resources to oversee and manage approximately 20,000 contaminated sites throughout New Jersey. The law creates “Licensed site remediation professionals (LSRPs)” who are charged with investigating whether a site is contaminated, preparing a remediation plan, executing that plan and then determining whether the site has been remediated in accordance with the plan. Lastly, these professionals are responsible for issuing a Result Action Outcome (RAO) letter which is the equivalent of the No Further Action letter we are used to seeing from DEP. Beginning on May 12, 2012 all “responsible parties “(such as a property owner, tenant or person who caused the contamination) are required to hire an LSRP to deal with their contaminated properties, however, DEP is encouraging this process to begin now rather than to wait until it is required.
Along with the creation of site remediation professionals came the need to license the LSRPs and to establish a professional board that would be responsible for overseeing the licensing of professionals, and their continuing education, conducting audits and investigating complaints. Under the appropriate circumstances, the board would also be responsible for disciplining the LSRPs.
That board is comprised of 13 members and its chairman is the Commissioner of DEP or his designee. Currently, this position is held by the assistant commissioner for site remediation, David Sweeney. In addition to the chairman, the board includes the state geologist, three members from the environmental community – including an LSRP working for environmentalists - and a representative of the responsible parties as well as an academic member. The remaining 6 positions are held by licensed site mediation professionals. Currently 11 of the 13 members have been nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The third environmentalist has been nominated by the governor and is awaiting confirmation by the Senate. The academic member of the board has yet to be nominated.
I was appointed by Governor Christie to serve as a representative of the environmental community and have participated since the board’s first meeting. We’ve met every 2 weeks from November 2010 to the end of May 2011 but have moved to a once a month schedule for the summer. Since November we have set up several committees to review and prepare recommendations on the various issues, including licensing, continuing education, audits, professional conduct review committee, and rules committee. There’s also a financing and bylaws and outreach committee.
Two major issues confronting the board and its committees are how to perform the audits and discipline. SRRA requires that the Board audit at least 10% of the LSRPs each year. The audit committee has prepared a proposed questionnaire to send to the LSRPs. That questionnaire was presented to the public and the committee has received comments which they are now reviewing.
The Professional Conduct Committee, on which I sit, is currently developing the discipline process. The committee has published to the public a flow chart of the process and is writing the proposed rules to expand on the flow chart. An open forum on that process will be held in July.
The rules being developed by the board will, in large part, determine whether the program is successful and whether the public can be assured that the remediations that are occurring are protective of human health and the environment.
For more information on the board you can go to the Board’s website at http://www.NJ.gov/SLRPB.