By Candace Baker, LSRP, Langan March 21, 2022
If current trends continue, the Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) will, in 2022, release their 20,000th Response Action Result or RAO. This exciting milestone is a testament to the success of the LSRP program.
Success was not a foregone conclusion in 2009 when the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) was passed. However, lawmakers, regulators and environmental practitioners knew New Jersey had to try something new because the environmental cleanups weren’t moving fast enough.
The SRRA established a new paradigm where cleanups would be led by New Jersey-certified environmental practitioners under the direction of the NJDEP. The NJDEP and LSRPs, in pursuit of mutual trust, have spent the past 13 years working together to remediate sites.
As of September 2021, over 11,000 LSRP-led cases have been closed and over 17,000 Final Remediation Documents (known as RAOs) have been issued. An RAO is issued for a site or area of concern that has been remediated in accordance with NJDEP rules.
However, our work is far from done. Many old legacy sites are approaching the remediation deadline in May. A number of these sites are technically difficult and expensive to clean up. The LSRPs and the NJDEP will need to redouble their efforts to find regulatory and technical solutions to close these complex sites.
However, cleaning up environmental pollution cannot be the only priority at our remediation sites. Governor Phil Murphy’s administration, through NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, has also prioritized environmental justice and climate change.
New Jersey’s Environmental Justice Act was signed into law on September 18, 2020, requiring the NJDEP to consider the effects of certain types of facilities on overburdened communities.
Additionally, a Climate Change Resilience Strategy for New Jersey was released on October 12, 2021. As part of this new strategy, climate change initiatives will need to be integrated with remediation projects.
20,000 RAO is a big milestone, but it’s only one step on the road. The NJDEP and LSRPs will need to continue to work together to ensure that future environmental cleanups not only meet established rules and standards, but can withstand future climate change and future community needs.
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