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NJBIA has submitted comments to the state Department of Environmental Protection stating concerns about a proposed rule updating Groundwater Quality Standards (GWQS) for Class II-A groundwater. 

As the DEP uses GWQS as base standards for remediation of groundwater contamination, NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor said the toxicity data used in setting the new standards was “inconsistent and questionable,” and that certain limits were not attainable and/or based on based on analytical methods for drinking water, instead of groundwater. 

“We strongly support environmental policies that are protective of human health because a clean and healthy environment is an essential component of a prosperous economy,” Cantor wrote.  

“Toward these ends, we are firm supporters of the state’s site remediation programs as it has developed throughout the years. As a result of these programs, thousands of previously contaminated sites have been remediated and put back into productive use. 

“We are concerned that the rules will result in absurd outcomes, such as when GWQS are set at levels that are below drinking water quality standards (DWQS). This is exactly the type of regulatory standards the Legislature proscribed the DEP from implementing.” 

Of the 65 contaminants subject to the proposed rule, 50 will have GWQS that are more stringent. Of those 50, seven will be more stringent by an order of magnitude or more.  

The remediation standard for a contaminant becomes more stringent by an order of magnitude when that standard is decreased by a factor of 10. 

“The impacts of these rules will be real and could be pervasive,” Cantor added. “These changes, especially the order of magnitude changes, will negatively impact development and redevelopment. Such changes should not be made unless necessary.  

“Unfortunately, the Department has not provided clear and unambiguous science with this proposal. While the enhanced protections that such order of magnitude changes will achieve will have minor enhancements to the protection of human health, they may be greatly outweighed by the burdens of reopening of numerous cases and the uncertainty that this will place on the marketplace.” 

Cantor further recommended that the rule not be adopted in its current proposed form and that extensive stakeholdering be performed before an amended rule is adopted. 

To see Cantor’s full comments, click here.