So, you’re ready to investigate, cleanup or develop a contaminated property, and would like to enter one of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) programs that may entitle you to liability protection or tax credits. Now you ask, “who do I need to hire to plan this work?” Do you need an architect, engineer, environmental consultant? All or none of the above? The simple truth is that navigating the technical world of site remediation can be challenging and confusing.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Environmental Remediation (DER) administers various cleanup programs and requires that certain aspects of a project be certified by specific individuals. For this reason, owners who plan to remediate a property through one of DER’s programs may be required to hire professionals with different technical qualifications, depending on the nature of the project.
For background, DER oversees numerous remediation programs in the State including: the Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Remedial Program, known as the State Superfund Program (SSF); the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP); the Environmental Restoration Program (ERP); and the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), among others. Each program serves a different function. However, most work plans submitted under these programs require certification by either a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) or a New York State Professional Engineer (NYSPE).
In New York, these two professionals have different qualifications – there are far more requirements for a QEP than a NYSPE. A NYSPE is someone who obtained an engineering degree and is licensed to work as an engineer in New York. QEP is a bit more complex because there is no degree or state certification for such a professional. In basic terms, a QEP must possess specific education, training, and experience that allows the person to form opinions and conclusions regarding the presence of contaminants on a property. More specifically, a QEP must have a current engineer’s license (from any state) or be a “site remediation professional” licensed by a federal or state agency, and have at least 3 years of experience in the field.
The differences between a QEP and a NYSPE do not end with the qualifications, as the professionals are required to certify different documents throughout the remediation process. For this reason, it’s important to understand what your needs are and acknowledge from the outset that you may need either or both a QEP and NYSPE on your remediation team.
Below are some of the documents a QEP can certify under DER cleanup programs:
· Work plans;
· Records search reports;
· Site characterization reports (SCR);
· Remedial investigation reports (RIR); and
· Underground storage tank closure reports.
Below are some of the documents a NYSPE can certify under DER cleanup programs:
· Remedy selection reports;
· Soil vapor mitigation systems; and
· Construction completion reports (CCR).
If you wish to navigate the remediation process for a site you own or are considering, it is in your best interest to have a team of qualified professionals that have the experience and knowledge to help guide you through the process.
Call the attorneys of Periconi, LLC at (212) 213-5500 if you are considering site remediation and want to make sure you have the correct professionals on your team or if you have any questions about DER’s various cleanup programs.