Recently, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) amended N.J.A.C. 7:26E-1.4 to provide for enhanced public notification and outreach by those entities responsible for the cleanup of contaminated sites. No later than two weeks prior to initiating field activities associated with a remedial investigation (i.e., after the site investigation phase) or initiating field activities associated with a single phase remediation, persons responsible for remediating contaminated sites must:
- Identify and record, on a prescribed DEP checklist (which must be submitted to NJDEP and local officials), certain sensitive populations and resources (i.e., residences, schools, child care centers, public parks, playgrounds, surface waters, drinking-water wells and priority well-head protection areas) located within 200 feet of the site boundary.
- Determine if the site is located in a municipality where an Environmental Justice Petition Neighborhood has been designated.
- Determine if a language other than English is predominantly spoken by property owners and tenants within 200 feet of the property boundary.
- Provide public notice by either (1) posting a sign; or (2) by sending periodic notification letters to each owner of real property located within 200 feet of the site boundary.
For situations where contamination has migrated off site, the responsible person must distribute a fact sheet, within two weeks after migration is determined to have occurred (or until September 2, 2009, for sites where off-site migration occurred prior to September 2, 2008), to owners of real property (and tenants of those properties) located within 200 feet of the site boundary. In addition, within four weeks of discovery of off-site contamination, the person responsible for cleanup of the site must publish the fact sheet in a local newspaper. Within four weeks of determining the horizontal and vertical extent of the off-site contamination, the responsible person must publish an updated fact sheet in a local newspaper.
The DEP may require the person responsible for conducting the remediation to perform additional public outreach if the DEP deems that necessary, or when the DEP determines that there is substantial public interest in the remediation activities (i.e., petition signed by 25 or more people who live or work within 200 feet of the site or within 200 feet of the extent of contamination if contamination has migrated off-site).