NJ Soil Remediation Standards: Here's What You Need To Know

On May 17, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) adopted and issued substantial amendments to its set of statutory remediations standards. The proposed revisions include PFAS remediation standards for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances such as hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt (GenX), perfluoro octane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluoro nonanoic acid (PFNA).

Interim soil remediation criteria for surface water, groundwater, leachate, and indoor air were also established. These revised rules include provisions made on the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act (N.J.S.A. 58:10B-12), along with other statutes.

Let’s take a detailed look at what these NJ soil remediation standards entail.

Key Takeaways

  • Expansion of Remediation Standards: Only potable groundwater was subject to interim criteria under the department's erstwhile remediation guidelines. This has recently been expanded to include interim and remediation standard processes for various media that are directly exposed to humans, such as indoor air, soil leachate, and soil for groundwater migration.
  • Division of Exposure Pathways: The rule requires extra screening and review for each of the exposure pathways covered in the Direct Contact Soil Remediation Standards, namely Ingestion-Dermal, and Inhalation. This is in addition to the previously prescribed stringent remediation measures in compliance with the prior rule.
  • Legally Enforceable: While screening limits for any influence on indoor air, groundwater, and soil leachate were previously mandated, the new modification establishes legally enforceable requirements for the same.
  •  Definition as per Property Use: The new clause categorizes properties as 'residential' or 'non-residential' depending on their purpose. Private and public schools, as well as childcare facilities and private dwellings, are examples of residential properties. The non-residential category comprises spaces that suggest commercial or industrial use.

How These Standards Were Enforced

The NJDEP had suggested a phase-in period of six months for the revised remediation standards. In accordance with this, they had also published and made available a Phase-In Period Guidance for the Use of Remediation Standards. This will assist remediating parties in meeting the new necessary remediation standard requirements.

With a few exceptions, the individual authorized to do the remediation was required to comply with the amended remediation criteria beginning May 17, 2021, according to these recommendations. These exceptions were only applicable in the following circumstances:

  • • A remediation site or flagged area for which the NJDEP has either approved a remedial steps plan or has received certification from the retained Licensed Site Remediation Professional.
  • The aforementioned site has a 'No Further Action Letter' or a 'Response Action Outcome,' in effect a final remediation document.

To effectively implement its new rules and revisions to the Remediation Standards, the NJDEP made provisions for training for Licensed Site Remediation professionals (LSRPs) and other interested professionals across the state. On June 15, 2021, another training session was held to provide information regarding alternate remediation standards and revised vapor intrusion screening limits.

Since the newly revised remediation standards have been expanded to include other contaminants besides groundwater, such as indoor air, surface water, and soil, concerned entities involved in site remediation projects are advised to review these updated guidelines before proceeding.