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Hey EDA: LSRPs Work for Polluters, Not DEP

Date : Wed, 13 Jun 2012 14:14:45 -0400

For Immediate Release
June 12, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Hey EDA: LSRPs Work for Polluters, Not DEP Today the Economic Development Authority gave a hardship grant to the Mahwah-based County Oil Corp. for the removal of seven underground oil tanks despite the company's sole owner engaging in illegal activities that would usually disqualify a company form receiving a grant.The company's President Joseph Minuto ran an illegal bookmaking operation in Florida in 1996.He has served time in prison and on probation.The EDA gave the grant to someone that should not qualify based on their false statement that LSRPs are DEP staffers.However the LSRP are private consultants that are hired by and work for the polluter or applicant.The LSRPs do not work for the DEP. They do not have to carry insurance and they are indemnified so there is no real accountability.There is no real discouragement to cutting corners as implied by the EDA.

"The LSRPs work for the polluters.They oversee these sites for the polluters.The program has been privatized and DEP does not have an oversight role.This program was created by polluters for polluters and takes the control of these contaminated sites away from staff at DEP and gives them over to consultants that work for the polluters and developers," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club. There is no independent oversight by DEP or anyone else.The consultants pick the cleanup plan and can waive compliance and even standards.There is no review of the cleanup plan by DEP.Only the LSRP oversees the cleanup work being done on site, not the DEP.The LSRP certifies the cleanup has been completed without any independent testing, verification, or oversight. Violations may be listed in the rules, but there is no enforcement mechanism.There are over 200 potential violations but no mechanism to enforce and penalize for those violations.In Massachusetts, where this privatized program originated, 78 percent of the audits done on level 3 contaminated sites showed problems or additional toxins and we fear New Jersey will see similar results with virtually no DEP oversight. Even if a complaint is brought forward it is not the DEP that decides if there is violation, but the LSRP Licensing Board, which is made up a majority of LSRPS and business community representatives, meaning developers and polluters.So even if something were to go wrong the LSRPs are policing themselves and we know how well that works. We are also concerned as the company has not been fined for having seven leaking tanks.Declining enforcement at DEP is impacting our environment and public health.

"This is worse than the fox guarding the hen house, this is fox designing the hen house and then certifying the hen house is safe.Under this program this fox is also indemnified to against any actions he takes," said Jeff Tittel.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-06-13 11:14:45

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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