New Jersey LSRPs

The Importance of Stakeholder Developed Technical Guidance

The Importance of Stakeholder Developed Technical Guidance


THE SITE REMEDIATION Reform Act (SRRA), which became law posten_amec2_4x6_cropin May 2009, fundamentally changed the oversight for sites being remediated in New Jersey. The SRRA established the affirmative obligation for responsible parties to remediate contaminated sites in a timely manner. Leading up to the enactment of the SRRA, numerous stakeholder groups met with the legislature to craft the language of the Act; one of the most important of these included the scientists and engineers who would ultimately become certified as LSRPs. One priority of these experienced remediation practitioners was the incorporation of professional judgment into the selection of current and best technical practices to achieve site cleanup.

In response to the requirements of the SRRA, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) created a process to develop topic-specific technical guidance committees— comprised of all interested parties—to provide recommendations, approaches and technical issues to be considered in the remediation of contaminated sites. These guidance documents became part of a hierarchy of technical guidelines available to the LSRP for making decisions and for applying professional judgment.

The selection of topics for the guidance was a collaborative process, and 15 stakeholder committees were identified to address both short-term priority (e.g., vapor intrusion) and long-term priority (e.g., technical impracticability) topics, and then supplemented with an additional six technical guidance committees. Examples of the guidance developed includes the concept of an exposure point concentration, along with the application of various forms of numerical or spatial averaging and the evaluation of comprehensive long-term monitoring programs in terms of temporal variability and data usability to provide practical and effective recommendations for monitoring frequency.

Development of guidance documents across a broad range of technical topics has advanced the state of the remediation practice in New Jersey through incorporation of current and best practices. In addition, the extensive, multiyear collaboration between stakeholders (the NJDEP, the regulated community and remedial scientists and engineers) has resulted in enhanced communication and in an increased level of respect between participants in the regulatory process.
Stephen E. Posten, LSRP, is a vice president at AMEC Foster Wheeler, and a member of the New Jersey LSRPA Board of Trustees.

Bottom Line Considerations for Remediating and Closing a Site

klink-head-shotONE OF THE WORST aspects of owning or managing a contaminated site are the seemingly endless series of invoices from your environmental consultant, but the proposal to finally remediate your site may dwarf those invoices by several orders of magnitude. Can a small gas station or dry cleaner investigation necessitate a multi-milliondollar remediation? Absolutely. Can a simple underground storage tank closure become a decade-long science project? That can happen. Can a preliminary assessment of your ISRA-applicable site uncover dozens of previously unknown areas of concern? Yes, of course. A good environmental consultant will understand that all possible scenarios equate to dollars leaving your pocket, and instead of attempting to capitalize on your environmental misfortune, they will use every tool available to them to move you through the process in the most economical way possible.

There are few more frightening phrases to environmental clients than “largescale remediation” or “long-term pump and treat.” Thankfully, there are a multitude of lower cost and timelier compliance options (and remediation standard calculation methods) available in New Jersey to those of you that have a potential soil or ground water remediation looming or already in progress. By using the right tools, you may be able to significantly reduce the number of site and remedial investigation samples that must be collected; reduce the number of post-remedial action samples that must be collected; reduce the size and scope of a remediation; and/or eliminate an investigation/remediation. The application of these tools requires you to subscribe to the adage “spend a little more money now to save money in the future.”

Three examples of alternatives to that decades-long science project that is giving you nightmares include:

● Your consultant has several different options to develop a site-specific Impact to Ground Water Soil Remediation Standard (ssIGWSRS). Contaminated soils located above the water table must be remediated to either the NJDEP’s default IGW Soil Screening Level (IGWSSL) or a calculated/modeled ssIGWSRS, whichever is higher in concentration. An ssIGWSRS must be developed for your site by your environmental consultant if a soil discharge is known or suspected; this can be skipped if you are using the default IGWSSL option. There are four methods allowable by the NJDEP to develop an ssIGWSRS. Under many circumstances, you may either reduce the number of samples at your site that would be considered contaminated or even potentially negate the need to do any further work. Imagine you find out that your site has low-level benzene contamination in soils above the water table. The default IGWSSL for benzene in New Jersey is 0.005 milligrams per kilogram (parts per million). What if your samples contained 0.01 milligrams per kilogram of benzene? Technically you would need to delineate and remediate that benzene if only default values were used for comparison purposes. By having your consultant run your initial samples for additional parameters (costing between $50 and $400 extra per sample depending on the types of analyses conducted) now, they will be able to calculate an ssIGWSRS greater than the default for your site or prepare a model that shows that your site soils will not impact ground water in the future. This would mean that you would need to do no further work following the preparation of a report and issuance of a Response Action Outcome (RAO) by the site LSRP.

● Pretend for a moment that you have just been presented with a costly soil excavation plan for your site. What if there was a way that your consultant could reduce the size of that remediation to small sections of your site and allow you to leave the other contamination in place? You may be able to mathematically portion your site using a weighted average. Essentially what this type of model can do is show you that you would be able to complete your remediation by only removing certain small areas, rather than digging out the entire box originally presented to you.

● What if you are presented with a lab report from your consultant that shows contaminated ground water in a newly installed monitoring well? Instead of immediately moving to the installation of additional monitoring wells to delineate the contamination, you have the option to collect two confirmation ground water samples within 60 days of the original sample. The results of the three sampling events may then be averaged together and then compared to the applicable standard. Please note that this type of averaging isn’t applicable if the initial result is three times greater than the applicable standard. As you can understand from these examples, there are ways and methods for you to get to an ending point with your site without years of hassle and needless dollars wasted on unnecessary investigations and remediation. As always, please defer to an environmental consultant to determine what the best course of action is for your site, but don’t be hesitant to inquire if there are any other options available to you that may save you time and money.

Kassidy Klink, LSRP, P.G., is a senior project manager at Peak Environmental LLC, and a member of the LSRPA.

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