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Federal Pac. Elec. Co. v. New Jersey Dep't of Envtl. Protection

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20165
Nos. No. A-518-98T2, 759 A.2d 851/(N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., 09/22/2000)

The court reverses the state environmental department's disapproval of a groundwater contamination plan submitted by an electrical manufacturer. The state agency required the electrical manufacturer to use state groundwater quality standards (GWQS) and technical rules as minimum remediation standards under the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act. The court first holds that the GWQS and technical rules were adopted before the enactment of the Industrial Site Recovery Act, and there is nothing to support the inference that the GWQS and technical rules were intended to satisfy the minimum remediation standards in all instances. The court then holds that the technical rules were proposed as rules to provide procedures for a remediating party to describe possible risks and injuries to the environment, not to qualify what amounts of which contaminants would require remediation. The court then holds that because the state agency failed to provide clear and concise notice that the GWQS and technical rules were to be the applicable standards for groundwater remediation under the Industrial Site Recovery Act, it violated the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Such notice was particularly important here because the GWQS and technical rules had not been the remediation standards under previous forms of environmental laws that were replaced by the Industrial Site Recovery Act. Because it failed to promulgate uniform standards in compliance with the state APA, the state agency must address the electrical manufacturer's remediation plan on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, the case is remanded for application of the court's holding.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (14 pp., ELR Order No. L-278).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Dennis J. Krumholz
Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti
Headquarters Plaza
One Speedwell Ave., Morristown NJ 07962
(201) 538-0800

Counsel for Defendant
Karen L. Jordan, Deputy Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
R.J.H. Justice Complex
25 Market St., CN-080, Trenton NJ 08625
(609) 292-4925