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New Jersey Remediation Deadlines Continue to Hold Property Owners’ Feet to the Fire, with May 7, 2014 Remedial Investigation Reporting Deadline, and 6 Year Statute of Limitations

April 1, 2014

Procrastination was once a viable option at many contaminated sites in New Jersey.  Property owners often chose to let sleeping dogs lie, awaiting a favorable transaction or available cash before addressing environmental contamination.  However, that approach largely went out the window several years ago, when New Jersey adopted mandatory deadlines for the investigation and remediation of contaminated properties.  One such deadline is the May 7, 2014 deadline for remediators of old contaminated sites to submit remedial investigation reports.  Failure to meet this deadline can produce dire results.

The remedial investigation report deadline is one of the most critical to any person remediating old contaminated sites in New Jersey – failure to meet it will result in the state taking over control of remediation, greater remediation costs, and the imposition of even more extensive financial assurance requirements.  However, New Jersey’s cleanup program contains numerous other critical deadlines which, if missed, subject remediators to the same fate.  Those deadlines are also tied to a very detailed penalty matrix which automatically assigns a penalty for each violation. 

The bottom line is that as property owners continue to discover and address environmental contamination, they need to be aware of applicable deadlines, and aware of the available grounds for seeking extensions.  For example, early this year, New Jersey decided to allow property owners and remediators to apply by March 21, 2014 to extend the looming May 7, 2014 deadline to submit remedial investigation reports.  Applying for the extension included the ominous requirement of establishing a funding source to complete the investigation.

Another significant event for remediators was the recent decision by the New Jersey Appellate Division to apply a 6 year statute of limitations to remediation cost recovery claims.  As a result, property owners need to quickly take a fresh look at possible claims against other parties for past cleanups, and be diligent in identifying parties responsible for current cleanups.

For additional information on the remedial investigation deadline extension, cost recovery, or any other environmental matter, email Paul Schmidt (pmschmidt@zarwin.com) or Mark Freed (mlfreed@zarwin.com) or call (215) 569-2800.


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