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PFAs: Will These Chemicals Stall Your Next Development?

WEINER LAWInsightsUncategorizedPFAs: Will These Chemicals Stall Your Next Development?

Uncategorized Thursday, August 3, 2023

Development in New Jersey is not cheap or easy. The real estate aspect, the local approvals, the numerous layers of state agency permitting. Arguably there is nothing that can sink a potential development deal faster than finding out about a potential environmental problem on a site. While the list of usual suspects is known to developers, an emerging problem is occurring in changing standards for polyfluoroalkyl substances known as “PFAs” or “forever chemicals” because they linger for years.

According to the CDC, PFAs are “man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s. They have been used to make nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil.” In essence, nearly everything contains PFAs. PFAs have been linked to a variety of health problems ranging from liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, fertility issues and cancer.

This is an emerging problem for municipalities as many have been required to undertake drastic upgrades to water supplies to change for tightening standards. The Borough of Oakland and City of Garfield in Bergen County, amongst others, are both in the middle of extensive projects to attempt to address the concerns. The projects still may not bring the water to the new proposed federal standards.

Make no mistake, as noted above PFAs are not new and they have been in the water supply, however, the standards are changing. New Jersey recently lowered its standard from 70 ng/l to 13 ng/l.  The EPA has proposed lowering the nationwide standard to 4 ng/l which would affect an untold number of water supplies and properties in New Jersey.

New Jersey is still figuring out its regulatory processes related to PFAs and development. The NJDEP through Administrative Order 2023-01 created certain new procedures for permitting related to PFAs. This is an emerging issue which will only continue to be more complex and complicated. There are several grant programs and other state monies available to try and fix these issues should they arise in development. Consult an attorney and environmental expert, it could save you millions.