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Updated ‘Site Remediation Reform Act’ Signed into Law

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Senator Bob Smith and Senate Environment and Energy Committee Vice-Chair Senator Linda Greenstein, which will update how the state governs the remediation of contaminated sites, was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy today. The new law updates the original Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA).

“A decade after passing the original remediation law, we reviewed the implementation of the law and we needed to readjust it based on the years of experience running this program,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “This new version, also known as ‘SRRA 2.0’, has significantly improved upon the original. By updating the process, we will be able to streamline the number of sites that can be remediated and create better outcomes for everyone.  This unbelievably successful program has cleaned up more than 14,000 contaminated sites.  Hopefully with these changes we will be even better in the future!”

“Ten years ago, the goal of SRRA was reducing the threat of contamination to public health. As the state labors to return polluted sites to productive use, that is still our goal,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “After ten years of remediating sites, it was clear the original SRRA could be improved. Updating this law will allow for more sites to be remediated at a more efficient rate.”

The new law will require a plaintiff, in any action for damages from personal injuries, wrongful death, or property damage, to provide each defendant with an affidavit of merit.  An affidavit of merit is a sworn statement from an appropriate licensed person stating that there exists a reasonable probability that the care, skill, or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the practice or work that is the subject of the complaint fell outside acceptable professional or occupational standards.

The law makes several changes to original laws governing the establishment of remediation funding sources, and when and how those remediation funding sources may be used, dispersed, and released. The law provides that a person may establish, as a remediation funding source, a surety bond from an entity that is listed as an acceptable surety on federal bonds. The law also establishes requirements for utilizing a surety bond as a remediation funding source.

The law also requires the Department of Environmental Protection to encourage the use of green and sustainable practices during the remediation of a contaminated site. However, the use of green and sustainable practices would not alter the requirement that the remediation be protective of the public health and safety and of the environment.