Remediation extension bill advances

TRENTON – The Senate Environment Committee released a bill Thursday – S3075 – to allow the Department of Environmental Protection to grant an extension of two years for the completion of a remedial investigation to a person responsible for cleaning up a contaminated site.

Current law requires the department to assume direct oversight of the cleanup if the person responsible has failed to meet deadlines set by law.

A 2009 law had given parties up until May 7, 2014.

The bill was discussed at an earlier hearing but not voted on at that time.

Opponents said violators have known for years this deadline was approaching, and do not merit extensions at the 11th hour. They cited examples of some contaminations that have existed for decades.

Supporters argued that some cleanups are complex and hindered by conflicting bureaucracies.

Sen. Jim Whelan, who supported the bill, asked the basic question: What will be done differently in the next two years that is different from what was done in the prior 15 years to ensure that two years from now the committee is not back again considering another extension request.

Sen. Bob Smith said – and DEP testified – the program is working and that the ones who will be subject to the extension are the so-called “good guys’’ making a good faith effort to clean up sites.

Sen. Linda Greenstein abstained, having questions about some of the more complicated cleanups and the ability of DEP to staff properly these matters. “I’m questioning how successful this has really been,’’ she said.

The panel OK’d this measure as well:

SR131:  This resolution commemorates the life of Richard J. Sullivan, first Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, second Chairman of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, and lifelong advocate for the preservation of parks and open space. He passed away earlier this month.

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Remediation extension bill advances