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How to Choose an Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants are listed in the telephone book’s Yellow Pages under Environmental Services. You will find environmental consultants who are licensed, called Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs), as well as those who are not licensed.

LSRPs are highly qualified individuals who are licensed by the Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board. LSRPs oversee the remediation of contaminated sites in accordance with the DEP's applicable standards and regulations, and must ensure that remediations are protective of human health, safety and the environment. LSRPs conduct these cleanups without approvals from DEP. LSRPs can issue Response Action Outcomes (RAOs) which is an acceptable form of approval for child care licensing. A list of LSRPs can be found here.

DEP does not maintain a list of consultants who are not licensed. You may wish to consult with your attorney, or local health department for recommendations. Although the DEP cannot recommend a specific consultant, we do recommend several questions you should ask prospective consultants. The answers to these questions should enable you to make an informed selection.

Questions for Prospective Consultants:

  • Is the consultant familiar with the regulations that govern the remediation of contaminated sites in New Jersey?
    The answer to this question is critical. At a minimum a consultant performing site remediation work must be familiar with:
    1. The Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (N.J.A.C. 7:26E)
    2. The Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (ARRCS) Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26C)
    If a consultant does not have a thorough knowledge and understanding of these regulations, project delays and additional costs may result. Call the references given by the consultant. Ask former clients whether the consultant submitted documents, which met DEP approval or whether repeated efforts were needed to meet regulations. Ask whether or not the consultant worked effectively with both him/her and the DEP case manager.
  • What projects has the consultant completed that are similar to your needs?
    Request a list of completed projects and the names of the customers who engaged the services of the consultant. This should help you determine whether the consultant has experience suited to your needs. If the consultant has completed similar projects get in touch with the references provided. Ask the scope and nature of the services provided and whether they were satisfied with the work performed and the timeliness.
  • What individual(s) will be assigned to your project and what qualifications, training or experience do they hold? Ask for resumes.
    Again, with the exception of persons performing work on regulated Underground Storage Tanks, New Jersey does not have a consultant certification program. Specific knowledge about the training and experience of those individuals who will be representing your interests should be acquired and reviewed. Request the resumes of all persons who will be assigned to the project. At a minimum, any person performing remediation work should be trained in health and safety protection in accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation 29 C.F.R. 1910.
  • What types of liability insurance (e.g. pollution liability or errors and omissions) does the consultant (or any subcontractors they plan to use) have? What does the policy cover and what are the limits?
    You should review the consultant’s insurance coverage in detail. Your careful consideration will help you make an informed decision regarding the risks you are willing to take. For example, the consultant could cause new contamination, worsen the existing contamination, or damage a third party’s personal or real property. The absence of the right type of insurance may subject you to liability for accidents caused by the consultant.
  • How does the consultant bill you? Request a cost estimate for your scope of work.
    A consultant cannot guarantee whether contamination will be found and, if so, to what extent. It is therefore difficult to precisely predict the cost of a project. Consultants bill on a time and materials basis. The time required will vary for each project. Nonetheless, it is crucial to ask for an estimate. Bear in mind that individual consultant billing rates and estimated costs are not necessarily good indicators of the quality of the work. Remember, if the work is not completed correctly, additional costs will be incurred to comply with DEP regulations.
  • Does the consultant have adequate staff to complete the project within your specified time?
    If the consultant will not be able to complete your project within the time you require, it may be advisable to select another consultant. Ask the consultant for a schedule for your project. Check the consultant’s references regarding the timeliness of his/her work.

The Final Decision

With the knowledge you obtained regarding the experience of the consultant, you should be able to make an informed selection. Just as you would call several contractors and obtain several bids on home improvement projects, you should take the time to do the same when selecting a consultant for site remediation work. You may contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at (973) 504-6200 to determine if the contractor has a history of complaints. Request a written proposal. The proposal should include a start date in addition to the expected duration for the project. After you receive the proposals, interview the firms that have provided high quality, competitively priced proposals and have presented a clear understanding of your goals and service requirements.

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