Michael Novak, president of Atlantic Environmental Solutions Inc. in Hoboken — Courtesy: AESI
The Licensed Site Remediation Professional program has undoubtedly eased the state’s backlog of contaminated sites. In the years to come, that volume could be a fraction of the more than 20,000 cases on the Department of Environmental Protection’s rolls prior to the program’s creation.
But Michael Novak believes the LSRP program “will be an ongoing source of work,” with new cases coming online for years to come. Especially if the commercial real estate market remains active, as more funding becomes available for cleanups and as developers become increasingly willing to take on challenged sites.
“We’re going to continue to see more properties get traded and some percentage of those will trigger the discovery of contamination and the assignment of cases and the retention of LSRPs,” said Novak, president of Atlantic Environmental Solutions in Hoboken. “So we think we’ll get to some steady state and hopefully with a smaller universe of cases … but it will be an ongoing source of work.”
Discovering new cases is all the more likely given the availability of data and documents that are relevant to environmental due diligence work. Even for routine transactions, Novak said consultants typically review dozens of historic records such as aerial photos and fire insurance maps for the neighborhood that surrounds a property, many of which are now available online.
And poring over records that weren’t easily accessible in the past means “we do discover problems that we probably wouldn’t have discovered 20 years ago.” That can only streamline a potential sale.
“It’s all a good thing for a buyer because they’re ultimately responsible for what’s at the property, if it’s discoverable, and it’s good that we can find it within 15 minutes online,” Novak said. “Whereas in the past it might have taken three and a half weeks and it would have been discoverable just after purchase.
“It’s always better to have access to information as quickly as possible.”