Revealing the new NJDEP Remediation Standards – what’s old, what’s new, and what do you do?

Posted on May 25th, 2021

LSRP Michelle Bouwman

On May 17, 2021, the NJDEP released significant revisions to the Remediation Standards, N.J.A.C 7:26D. These revisions will have a significant impact on new or ongoing remediation at many sites in New Jersey, including certain sites that previously received a No Further Action or Response Action Outcome. The key changes include:

  1. Establishing separate Residential and Non-Residential Soil Remediation Standards for ingestion-dermal and inhalation exposure pathways.
  2. Replacing the previous Impact to Ground Water Soil Screening Levels with the Migration to Ground Water Soil Remediation Standards.
  3. Adopting new remediation standards for soil leachate (for the migration to groundwater exposure pathway) and indoor air (for the vapor intrusion exposure pathway).

The change in standards presents a technical challenge for legacy remediation projects with large historical datasets. The manual comparison of historical data to new standards can be a time-consuming, error-prone, and expensive process. JMS has developed an automated data screening procedure to reduce time and cost associated with this screening. For the past nine years, JMS has been using environmental data management software to create a robust database of sample data collected from our clients’ sites.  With more than 45,000 samples and 2 million analyses, the database allows JMS to efficiently filter through data based on sample matrix, contaminant, concentration, method, and other characteristics and compare the data to the remediation standards that are applicable to each site.

NJDEP has established a six-month phase-in period for use of the new standards. Sites that achieve case closure in the next six months with issuance of a Response Action Outcome are not required to comply with the new standards. Similarly, sites with a Remedial Action Workplan submitted prior to the end of the phase-in period may utilize the previous standards. One exception is in instances where the new remediation standard decreased by a factor of ten.  In these instances, an evaluation needs to be conducted.

An example of a remediation standard that decreased by a factor of ten is ethylbenzene, which is commonly present on petroleum-impacted sites. The previous Residential Soil Remediation Standard for ethylbenzene was 7,800 mg/kg, while the new Inhalation Residential Standard is 10 mg/kg. The significant decrease in the standard triggers a re-evaluation for all open sites and sites that have achieved regulatory closure with a Remedial Action Permit in accordance with the order of magnitude guidance.

JMS can screen our sample database in minutes to identify client sites that may need to conduct additional evaluation of ethylbenzene. Of the approximately 8,500 ethylbenzene soil results, 245 samples on sixty properties contain ethylbenzene between 10 mg/kg – 7,800 mg/kg. Based on the preliminary screening, JMS can proceed to evaluate whether further remediation is necessary on a case-by-case basis.

If you are struggling to understand how to evaluate the new standards or process an existing dataset, get in touch and we can discuss how JMS can assist.

Michelle Bouwman, LSRP

Senior Manager

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