Over the past few years at the NJDEP, there have been a lot of changes; new regulations, new guidance, etc., and let’s not forget the NJDEP’s move to bring all NJ Site Remediation cases into LSRP program by May 2012. While this change will likely increase the rate at which cases are processed and closed and possibly stimulate the economy by freeing up development and real estate transactions, it may also raise concerns for property owners. In the past, the NJDEP has had a presence on every environmental case to ensure protection of human health and the environment, and to ensure compliance with regulations. In this new world, that role has changed, and now that role is played by the consultant, or LSRP. With this arrangement, it is more important than ever for clients to trust that their consultants are competent and will “do the right thing.”
Environmental cases are often part of complicated transactions where there are property owners, lessees, responsible parties, municipalities, etc.. We are already seeing cases where community groups, municipalities or other interested parties are retaining outside LSRPs to ensure that the remediating party is remediating the site in the interest of all groups…they are obtaining second opinions. Not unlike what we often see when dealing with physicians, environmental cases will likely become an area where interested parties start seeking second opinions. A second opinion could become a useful tool for parties to ensure the direction and strategy for bringing their site to closure is a sound one. JMS has provided this service to clients to bring them a higher level of confidence with their case. JMS has provided this service by providing a technical review and recommendations, as well as providing LSRP services when a primary consultant is already on board. This also provides an opportunity to develop a new business relationship.
As the new paradigm for managing cases in New Jersey develops, clients will need to assess their level of confidence in their environmental consultants, knowing the ultimate success of their project hinges on the expertise of its LSRP. In cases where that confidence just isn’t there, stakeholders in environmental cases may find themselves saying, “I think I need a second opinion.”
James Vander Vliet, P.E.