Private-sector cleanup experts playing key role at Roche site

Joshua Burd//November 4, 2014//

Private-sector cleanup experts playing key role at Roche site

Joshua Burd//November 4, 2014//

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From gas stations to dry cleaners to old industrial buildings, a 5-year-old state program is streamlining environmental cleanups at more than 10,000 sites in New Jersey.But here’s one site that’s not quite so ordinary: the 116-acre, soon-to-be vacant Roche campus Nutley and Clifton.

The longtime home of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant is among the most high-profile cases in the state’s Licensed Site Remediation Professionals program. Launched in 2009, the program has put remediation largely in the hands of private-sector consultants, speeding the process for property owners and helping to clear the Department of Environmental Protection’s backlogged caseload.

The Roche campus is in store for plenty of cleanup work as it prepares to sell the site for redevelopment. The property has 190 recorded “areas of concern,” as defined by regulators — and the company has hired seven licensed site remediation professionals, or LSRPs, to handle the job.

DEP Assistant Commissioner Mark Pedersen said doing so allowed Roche to “proceed without department preapproval. So you had those LSRPs on the site, applying their professional judgment and … and if there were any questions that needed some consultation with the department or technical assistance, we were there to help them.”

“It is unique, it’s the extreme,” Pedersen said, “but it shows that for even the most complex sites, you stick your mind to it and put the resources to it with the LSRPs, and sites can be evaluated in a very timely process.”

Time is critical as Roche prepares to sell its home of more that 80 years, which it’s vacating as part of a corporate restructuring. Company spokeswoman Darien Wilson said “the process of identifying a buyer is ongoing and we expect to sell the 118-acre site by the end of 2015.”

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To manage its environmental investigation and cleanup, the company tapped TRC Environmental Corp. of New Providence. Roche also has hired an overall project coordinator along with its seven LSRPs, and has divided the site into 15 investigative areas to make for remediation more efficient.

“As a responsible community presence for over 80 years, it was important that we efficiently and effectively manage the environmental cleanup, following the announcement of the site closure,” Tom Lyon, the site head of Roche’s Nutley campus, said in a prepared statement to NJBIZ. “This will allow us to readily repurpose the site for the benefit of the surrounding community. Based on our collective efforts with TRC, we expect that the property will be in a much better state than it was when Roche purchased the parcels that make up the site today.”

Wilson said the company “has already accomplished a significant amount of work in part due to the efforts of the LSRPs who work closely, with and have the ability to partner with, NJDEP to achieve results.” That includes completing a soil investigation and beginning a cleanup effort.

And in April, it submitted a site-wide groundwater remedial investigation report to the DEP, “a major step in finalizing our investigation and developing a full groundwater remediation plan,” she said.


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