New Guidance from NJDEP Triggers Renewed Action for Some Sites

New Guidance from NJDEP Triggers Renewed Action for Some Sites

For some site owners and remediating parties, changes to Interim Ground Water Quality Standards recently announced by the NJDEP could require further remedial activity than initially planned. This includes sites that may be in the late stages of the planning process or have already been considered closed, so these new criteria might not be welcome news, depending on what action needs to be taken. A key change is a reduction in the standard for 1,4-Dioxane by an order of magnitude, which triggers renewed action in certain scenarios. Read on to see if your site could be affected by these changes!

On November 25, 2015, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) adopted Interim Ground Water Quality Standards for 12 compounds, including:

  • Compounds with No Prior Ground Water Quality Standard: 1-Chloro-1,1-difluoroethane, Cresols (mixed isomers), 1,1-Dichloro-1-fluoroethane, 1-Methylnaphthalene, Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), Strontium, 1,1,2-Trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane (Freon 113), Tri-cresyl phosphate (mixed isomers), 1,1,1-Trifluoroethane, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, Tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate
  • Compounds with Prior Standard and an Order of Magnitude Decrease: 1,4-Dioxane (current standard 0.4 ug/L, prior standard 10 ug/L)

Guidance was simultaneously posted to the Department's web site (PDF), indicating that the use of these new Criteria were effective immediately for sites where these compounds are known or potential contaminants of concern. That same guidance was updated and released on March 8, 2016 to outline potential scenarios where persons responsible for conducting remediation and Spill Act-liable parties might need to evaluate and investigate compounds for which the NJDEP has adopted new and revised ground water quality standards.

According to the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act, the NJDEP can't compel additional remediation activities to meet new standards for sites where the remedial action is complete or compel changes to a Department or LSRP approved Remedial Action Workplan, unless the remediation standards differ in each case by an order of magnitude. Based on these provisions, four scenarios specific to the order of magnitude decrease in ground water standard for 1,4-Dioxane were provided in the recently updated Interim Ground Water Quality Standard implementation guidance, including:

  • Sites where the Remedial Investigation has been completed and a Remedial Investigation Report submitted to the Department, but the Remedial Action has not been completed and 1,4-Dixoane is being remediated as part of an active ground water treatment system or by monitored natural attenuation;
  • Sites where the Remedial Investigation has been completed and a Remedial Investigation Report submitted to the Department, but the Remedial Action has not been completed and 1,4-Dixoane is not being remediated as part of an active ground water treatment system or by monitored natural attenuation, but 1,4-Dioxane has been identified as a potential contaminant of concern at the site;
  • Sites with a Final Remediation Document (e.g. NJDEP issued No Further Action letter or LSRP issued Response Action Outcome) and 1,4-Dioxane being remediated pursuant to a ground water remedial action permit; and
  • Sites with a Final Remediation Document and 1,4-Dioxane remediated to 10 ug/L and no ground water remedial action permit currently in effect.

For each of the 1,4-Dioxane scenarios identified above, the Department's guidance indicates that the person responsible for conducting remediation or the Spill Act-liable party, as appropriate, shall:

  • Evaluate concentrations of 1,4-Dioxane in the ground water at the site;
  • If no 1,4-Dioxane ground water data is available, collect samples to determine if 1,4-Dioxane is present in ground water;
  • Complete the delineation of 1,4-Dixoane in ground water;
  • Determine whether the ground water remedial action is adequate to prevent exposure to the contamination and that the remediation remains protective of public health, safety and the environment; and/or
  • Conduct all additional remediation of 1,4-Dioxane as needed to comply with all applicable statutes in order to protect the public health, safety, and the environment.

Woodard & Curran has successfully conducted investigations and designed remedial strategies for sites where 1,4-Dioxane was discovered in the later stages of the site remediation process. Our experience has taught us that the identification of emerging contaminants like 1,4-Dioxane at ongoing remediation sites has the potential to derail project progress, create unexpected project costs, and extend project schedules. Acutely aware of these potential challenges, our teams take a measured approach to integrating emerging contaminant considerations with careful planning, effective communication, and an understanding of available treatment technologies and alternatives that are needed to maintain remedial action objectives and minimize cost expenditures.

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