Atlantic Environmental Solutions Nearing 150 Response Action Outcome Letters
HOBOKEN, N.J., July 6, 2018 – New Jersey’s history as an industrial center has left a legacy of liabilities for real estate owners and developers. As a result, buyers and sellers of a wide range of properties encounter serious environmental concerns, from leaking underground storage tanks to buried industrial waste, poor quality fill material, improper handling of hazardous materials, historic PCB usage and spills. The volume of contaminated sites coupled with increased demand for efficient cleanup has led to sweeping changes in the way site remediation is handled throughout the state.
The Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA), which went into effect in 2009, shifted the responsibility for initiating and completing most remediation projects from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to private sector Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs). According to Michael Novak, LSRP and President of Atlantic Environmental Solutions Inc (AESI), a Hoboken-based environmental remediation and consulting firm, “Since the LSRP program was fully launched in May 2012, more contaminated sites across the state are being cleaned up and returned to quality, productive use faster than ever before.”
A Pioneer in the LSRP Program
Novak was one of the first individuals to be issued an LSRP license in New Jersey. “As transaction-based environmental consultants, our firm was accustomed to performing remediation and consulting services on a rapid basis to facilitate a deal, and we had success interacting with the NJDEP on fast-turnaround projects,” Novak said. With multiple LSRPs on staff, he and his team have closed 147 LSRP matters with Response Action Outcome (RAO) letters. AESI has 327 LSRP projects in total, ranking it high among environmental firms statewide.
Approximately 60 percent of AESI’s workload is generated by environmental due diligence and soil and groundwater remediation services. The firm’s LSRPs work with clients to investigate and remediate properties, and Areas of Concern (AOCs) must achieve full compliance with the NJDEP Technical Requirements, multiple guidance documents and Remediation standards. Transaction speed is a key consideration, and AESI is committed to expediting site cleanup as quickly as possible without compromising quality. “Helping our customers rapidly attain full compliance is our top priority,” noted Novak.
AESI LSRP services include soil and groundwater remedial action permits, preliminary assessments, site investigations and remediation. One of the hallmarks of the firm’s work is the methodology it uses when strategizing a remediation plan that is both cost effective and timely for clients. “Issuance of RAOs signals the work has been done for the NJDEP. This is what everyone wants; however, there are many ways to clean up contamination while utilizing the NJDEP’s methods for closing sites.”
AESI’s Work Ranges from Industrial and CRE Transaction Work to Day Care Centers and Mixed-Use Residential Projects
The volume of AESI’s production reflects its location in Hudson County and the company’s focus on the state’s industrial and commercial real estate transaction market, according to Novak. “Most of our cases are triggered by environmental due diligence investigations,” he noted.
Cessation of activity, a sale or other change in ownership of an industrial property will often activate the Industrial Site Remediation Act (ISRA). AESI’s LSRPs take property owners through the process and prepare the required documents for submission to the NJDEP.
While many former industrial facilities are redeveloped as warehouses or distribution centers, just as many also become residential developments, parks, schools and day care facilities. “Remediation of these sites is heavily regulated and the work must meet an extremely high standard,” said Novak. “AESI has helped transform several hundred industrial properties into residential apartment buildings, condominium complexes, day care centers, schools and other sensitive end-uses. Our team operates closely with the regulators to ensure safe and clean spaces.”
Transit villages are a substantial source of work for AESI as well, under the LSRP program. Soil and groundwater contamination are common issues for residential or mixed-use development projects built along rail lines and on sites that historically served non-residential or industrial purposes. Remediation plans are tailored to specific site conditions, and remedies include traditional excavation and disposal programs as well as subsurface injections with amendments that destroy contaminates in ground.
Streamlining the remediation process has proven to be effective. From the time the LSRP program was fully implemented in 2012 to the end of 2015, NJDEP reported that the number of cases closed rose from 1,200 to 7,500. This number surpassed 10,000 in 2017 and is on pace to reach 12,000 this year.
“By utilizing the knowledge and expertise of environmental professionals, the NJDEP is returning contaminated sites to beneficial use and providing assurance to owners that the work meets complex rules and regulations,” said Novak. “Most importantly, firms like AESI are helping to protect our state’s natural resources and improve the quality of life for businesses and residents.”