NJDEP Again Adopts Substantial Hikes in Site Remediation Program Fees Beginning July 1, 2016

Manko Gold Katcher Fox LLP
Bruce S. Katcher

The original article was posted in the MGKF Newsflash

July 5, 2016

In a repeat of last year’s increase, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced in the July 5, 2016 New Jersey Register that it had increased annual remediation fees, the remedial action permit (RAP) application fees, and the annual RAP fees for the Site Remediation Program (SRP), in most cases by 25 percent.  For fees that are invoiced by the NJDEP (both annual remediation fees and RAP annual fees) the new fees go into effect with any invoices dated after July 1, 2016. For RAP applications, the new fees go into effect with any that are postmarked on or after July 1.

The annual remediation fee is charged each year for every active site remediation case going through the SRP.  That fee, which is set at a level intended to fund the total budget to process active cases in the SRP, consists of two components – the contaminated area of concern (CAOC) fee, which varies depending on the number of CAOCs associated with each case, and the contaminated media (CM) fee, which varies depending on the number of CM (i.e., groundwater, surface water, etc.) being addressed at each site.  The NJDEP formula for adjusting the COAC fee is largely driven by the number of COACs reported to the NJDEP in the prior calendar year and the CM fee adjustments are driven by the number of reported CM.  These fees are reduced as CAOCs are remediated and issued Response Action Outcomes by the Licensed Site Remediation Professional retained for the site.

Similar to last year, using the formula specified in the regulations, NJDEP calculated that the projected increase in the annual CAOC fee would have been 60 percent (i.e., the number of reported COACs went up considerably from the prior year); however “rather than imposing this financial burden on the regulated community”, NJDEP decided to cap the increase at 25 percent.  The new CAOC fees range from $880 to $19,360, depending on the number of CAOCs at the site and whether any underground tanks are involved.  The calculated increase in the CM fee was 15percent (meaning the number of reported CM did not increase as much as the number of reported COACs).  The CM fee will now be $2105 per CM at each site.

The RAP application fee (new permits, modifications, transfers and terminations) calculations are affected by the number of staff hours taken to administer the permit program and staff costs.  Based on projections of an increased number of staff hours to administer the program and a 10 percent increase in staff hourly rates,  the NJDEP determined that most fees would more than double, but as with the COAC fee, limited the increase to 25 percent.  RAP application fees will range from $520 to $1175, depending on the type of medium (soil or groundwater) and permit action (new permit, transfer, modification, termination).  Annual RAP fees (the yearly fees to oversee these permits once they are issued) as calculated would also have increased by more than 25 percent, however, they too were capped at a 25 percent increase.  This fee will be a uniform $255.

This article is being provided for informational purposes only and not for the purposes of providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem you may have. In addition, the opinions expressed herein are the opinions of Mr. Katcher and may not reflect the opinions of Synergy Environmental, Inc., Manko Gold Katcher Fox LLP or either of those firms’ clients.

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