Flood area delineation bill advances

TRENTON – The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee released two bills today related to flood area delineations and contaminated sites.

A3262: This bill amends the “Flood Hazard Area Control Act” to direct the Department of Environmental Protection to take certain actions concerning delineations of flood hazard areas and floodways. The vote was 6-0-1 with Assemblyman Scott Rudder abstaining.

This bill would have DEP update its delineations of flood hazard areas as frequently as necessary, and at a minimum, at least once every 15 years.

Further, upon the federal government’s adoption of a new floodway delineation, the bill directs the DEP to incorporate that federal delineation into the department’s flood hazard area delineation, provided that the DEP determines that the federal floodway delineation is sufficient to carry and discharge the flood flow of the watercourse.

Jeff Tittel of the N.J. Sierra Club said that maps have not been updated and kept accurate, and he told the committee this bill essentially would require DEP to do its job.

Rudder said he abstained over concerns about how the steep cost would be dealt with, despite the fact he said the bill is necessary.

A3367: This bill would provide that the owner of an industrial establishment applying for an exemption from the “Industrial Site Recovery Act” would be required to certify to the Department of Environmental Protection that they do not have actual knowledge of any contamination.

The vote was unanimous.

Under current law, the owner or operator of an industrial establishment may apply for an exemption when transferring or closing an industrial establishment, if the owner or operator’s use of hazardous substances at the site never exceeded certain levels. 

The department adopted rules requiring that an owner who applies for this exemption must also provide the department with a certification that the industrial establishment is not contaminated above remediation standards. 

However, in a decision issued on July 6, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court held that the requirement for such certification was without sufficient legislative authorization and therefore invalid.