On May 17, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) adopted the proposed rules and amendments to the N.J.A.C. 7:26D Remediation Standards originally published on April 6, 2020. NJDEP reassessed each constituent using updated toxicity factors, exposure assumptions, and chemical and physical factors. As a result, there are multiple changes in the remediation standards that will impact current, future, and closed remediation sites. NJDEP also added remediation standards for several new contaminants and removed certain contaminants from the regulations. The phase-in period for the updated rules is six months from May 17, 2021.
Highlights of the NJDEP Remediation Standard Updates
NJDEP made the following changes:
- Direct contact soil remediation standards have been replaced with separate standards for the ingestion-dermal and inhalation exposure pathways.
- Default impacts to groundwater soil screening levels have been replaced with enforceable soil and leachate remediation standards for the migration to groundwater exposure pathway.
- Indoor air screening levels have been replaced with enforceable indoor air remediation standards.
- Additional constituents have been added with new standards. Additionally, standards for many constituents increased, decreased, or were removed.
The phase-in period of six months does not apply to all cases. Parties that submitted a remedial action work plan or remedial action report before the phase-in deadline (November 17, 2021) can remediate their site using the existing remediation standards as long as the remediation standard for their contaminant(s) did not increase by an order of magnitude or more. If the standards did increase by an order of magnitude or more, then the new standards must be followed, and the phase-in period does not apply.
Current, future, and even closed remediation cases may be impacted by the changes to N.J.A.C. 7:26D.
- Sites that are currently in the remedial action phase may be able to expedite the remediation process by taking advantage of the phase-in period if the remediation standards for the contaminants increased by less than an order of magnitude.
- Sites that are currently in the investigation phase should evaluate whether the change in standards requires modifying the investigation or remedial approach for the site.
- Sites that have been closed should review the order of magnitude decrease in the standards to see if additional work is needed (e.g., during biennial certification or when an industrial property is sold).
- Sites that have ongoing vapor intrusion or monitoring should re-evaluate their vapor intrusion program; a decrease in the standards may trigger the need for vapor intrusion pathway mitigation.
A detailed summary of the adoption and the full amended rule are available on NJDEP’s Site Remediation and Waste Management Program (SRWMP) Remediation Standards webpage https://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/guidance/rs/