On April 8, 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 122 (EO-122) mandating, among other things, that all “non-essential” construction projects cease by 8:00 PM on Friday, April 10. Details on the types of projects that are considered “essential” and can therefore continue, subject to social distancing and other precautions to help avoid the spread of COVID-19, are available here.
With respect to environmental cleanups, New Jersey is following New York’s lead, where remediation projects are allowed to continue notwithstanding the state’s restrictions on construction work. All such remediation work in New Jersey is subject to the safety requirements described more here.
More specifically, EO-122’s definition of “essential construction projects” includes “[a]ny work on a non-essential construction project that is required to physically secure the site of the project, ensure the structural integrity of any buildings on the site, abate any hazards that would exist on the site if the construction were to remain in its current condition, remediate a site, or otherwise ensure that the site and any buildings therein are appropriately protected and safe during the suspension of the project…”
With this as the only reference to remediation work in EO-122, it appears “remediation” is not being considered “construction” and the intent here is to simply clarify that work required to “remediate a site” can continue, even at “non-essential” construction projects.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is expected to issue guidance on EO-122 shortly, as well as announce extensions to certain remediation deadlines in response to COVID-19. We will continue to provide updates as new developments occur.