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Guidance Documents Public Notification & Guidance

 

Public Notification & Outreach Guidance

Background

Early, two-way communication by parties responsible for remediations (RPs) with residents, business owners and local officials potentially affected by remediation activities can be critical to a successful investigation and cleanup. This may be especially true when future uses include public recreation or housing. With an effective outreach strategy, RPs can anticipate the needs and concerns of the community and deal with them proactively. Effective outreach creates a forum to share information and raise and address community concerns about future use early in the remediation process. This effort can save time and money and build critical community support.

For this reason, in September 2008, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Department) adopted amendments to the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation to require RPs to perform public notification and outreach beginning at the onset of the remedial investigation phase.

Recent Changes to the Public Notification Requirements

Public Notification requirements now located in ARRCS

The Department has recently adopted rule amendments affecting public notification requirements to address concerns from the community. Included in these amendments is the recodifying of the public notification requirements from the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (Technical Requirements, N.J.A.C. 7:26E-1.4 ) to the Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (ARRCS, N.J.A.C. 7:26C-1.7).

Please note: ARRCS states that public notification must be conducted 14 days prior to commencing field activities associated with the Remedial Action (RA). This differs from the previous requirement in the Technical Requirements that public notification must be conducted 14 days prior to commencing field activities associated with the Remedial Investigation (RI). This change was made in error and the requirement for public notification will be changed back to the RI in a future rule amendment package. Until the amendment package is adopted, and as mentioned above, the Department believes that it is beneficial to everyone that early public outreach and notification occurs, and supports RPs conducting public outreach and notification prior to the RA.

Contact Information

Signs, notification letters, and fact sheets must include contact information for the remediating party and the LSRP but not the DEP Office of Community Relations. As such, please do not include contact information for DEP's Office of Community Relations. Signs must be revised or replaced to reflect this change, and updated letters sent to all required parties as described below.

Documenting Compliance

All public notification submittals must be accompanied by the Public Notification and Outreach form. This package is no longer required to be submitted to the Department shortly after public notification is conducted. Instead, to document compliance, the package must be submitted to the Department with the subsequent applicable remedial phase report. However, documentation of public notification must be sent to the county health department, local health agency, and municipal clerk when the notification is conducted.

Public Inquiries

In accordance with N.J.A.C 7:26C-1.7(o), RPs must respond to public inquiries, including media inquiries, either received directly or received by the Department and forwarded to the person responsible. Contractual/confidentiality issues must be resolved between RPs and their licensed site remediation professional (LSRP) to be able to respond. Details on how to respond are outlined in the Public Inquiry Policy document.

Signs and Letters

The August 2006 amendments to the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act (Brownfield Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10B-1 et seq.), implemented through the public notification rule, N.J.A.C. 7:26C-1.7, provide two options for public notification: the posting of a notification sign at the site or the sending of periodic notification letters to owners and tenants within 200 feet of the site boundary. In both cases, the notification should summarize site conditions and describe the activities that are to take place to remediate the site. In addition, notification must include contact information for the RP and the name and telephone number for the LSRP of record for the site. It should also include the NJDEP Preferred Identification (PI) number for the site. The Department's PI number can be found in the most recent edition of the "Department's Known Contaminated Sites in New Jersey" report found at http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/kcs-nj/.

The RP may, at any time, change the form of notification pursuant to this section in ARRCS from posting a sign to sending periodic notification letters or vice versa.

The remediation of an unregulated heating oil tank system or an emergency response action is exempt from the requirement to post signs or send periodic notification letters.

Please refer to the following links for specific guidance regarding notification signs and letters:
 

Posting Signs Sending letters Guidance for Retail Gasoline Stations

Sending Fact Sheets

The requirements to prepare, distribute, and publish the fact sheet required by N.J.A.C. 7:26C-1.7(l) are triggered: (1) by the determination that contamination in any environmental medium has migrated off-site and (2) at the completion of the remedial investigation for soil when the full extent of off-site soil contamination has been delineated. While the “determination that contamination has migrated off-site” standard for triggering a fact sheet requires data to confirm presumed off-site migration, the Department expects responsible parties to act expeditiously to confirm or rule out whether contamination has migrated off-site once there is a reasonable presumption that it has.

Within 14 days of a determination that contamination has migrated off-site, the RP must prepare and distribute a fact sheet, which shall include a description of the site's industrial history, source(s) of contamination, description of contamination, current remedial status, proposed remedial actions with a schedule, extent of contamination, actions performed to minimize the impact to the public, and a list of online resources for information about the contaminants. This fact sheet must be published in a local newspaper within 30 days after the determination that contamination has migrated off site.

The RP must also prepare, redistribute, and republish an updated fact sheet within 90 days after the vertical and horizontal extent of off-site soil contamination has been determined. The RP is not required to update the fact sheet required by N.J.A.C. 7:26C-1.7, if the off-site contamination is limited to ground water. Instead, they are required to complete the public notification requirements for establishing a ground water Classification Exception Area (CEA). This notification entails distributing the CEA/Well Restriction Area Fact Sheet form as per N.J.A.C. 7:26C-7.3.

RPs may choose to use an abbreviated fact sheet for publishing purposes only. The abbreviated fact sheet should include a description of the site's industrial history, source(s) of contamination, description of contamination, current remedial status, and proposed remedial actions. The recommended fact sheet templates are provided below.

Advertisement Template Ad Template for Service Stations

 

The Department has developed Frequently Asked Questions to assist RPs and LSRPs. For other questions, please call the Office of Community Relations at 609-984-3081 ext. 5.