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EWMA Readies for Environmental Remediation Changes Set Out in SRRA 2.0
August 28th, 2019

EWMA Readies for Environmental Remediation Changes Set Out in SRRA 2.0

Comprehensive updates to New Jersey’s 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA), signed into law on August 23, will impact how thousands of properties in the state are remediated and redeveloped.

New Jersey’s first overhaul to SRRA, signed by Governor Phil Murphy late last week, is known colloquially as “SRRA 2.0.” This legislation, S-3862/A-5293, identified and resolved multiple items which affect the remediation of thousands of contaminated properties in the Garden State.

Impacted areas include how Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) are utilized in remediation projects; the need for public transparency on site cleanups; how projects are financed; the role green technologies play in cleanups; and firm delineation of the responsibilities of a Person Responsible for Conducting the Remediation (PRCR).

“SRRA, when first introduced in 2009, brought major changes to the way environmental remediations were performed in New Jersey, setting up an entirely new system for cleanups by privatizing many of them through the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) program,” said Donald W. Richardson, CPG, President, EWMA. “SRRA’s first significant update since its enaction refines and clarifies many of those processes, including the short-term and long-term responsibilities of the PRCR and property owner alike.”

Among the dozens of changes included in SRRA 2.0 are important items which can impact the cost of a cleanup. For example, SRRA 2.0 authorizes surety bonds as a source of financial assurance obligation for site maintenance, a less-expensive option for those who previously relied on trust funds or lines of credit to fulfill this requirement. The legislation also revises the definitions of several key terms in the legislation, such as “immediate environmental concern” (IEC) to include abandoned structures on contaminated properties, and clarifies the definition of “remediation” to clarify that natural resources damages are not included in estimates when determining the cost of a cleanup. 

“Over the last decade, the environmental remediation industry has learned a lot about what SRRA covers and where it fell short,” Richardson said. “This update to the legislation dots the i’s and crosses the t’s, directly pulled from our lived experience with the requirements.”

Richardson noted that SRRA 2.0 also clarifies that remediation and maintenance requirements are attached to the property in question, not to a buyer, seller, or owner of the property, a significant definition for the long-term maintenance of a remediated property.

“Real estate brokers and environmental remediation companies knew that a property’s remediation status was tied to the plot of land itself, tracked by a unique ID, but this was not in writing until SRRA 2.0,” Richardson said. “Now, if a remediated property transfers ownership 10, 15, or 20 years from now, it’s clear that the new ownership is still responsible for its safety and viability.”

Richardson said that guaranteed fixed-price remediation programs, such as the SECUR-IT® program by EWMA, can help developers project their short-term and long-term costs, no matter who owns the property, by incorporating all expenditures into one proposal, including recertifications, monitoring, maintenance, and repairs.

“Long-term monitoring is included with SECUR-IT contracts, so there is a site maintenance plan in place for every property, no matter who owns it,” Richardson said. “There won’t be any surprise costs related to environmental remediation during the transfer of ownership, which helps brokers and buyers understand the true cost of the property and ensures their legal obligations are taken care of.”

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