NJDEP Adopts MCLs and Groundwater Quality and Remediation Standards for PFOA, PFOS – Update from Manko Gold Katcher Fox

June 2, 2020

Bruce S. Katcher

MGKF NewsFlash

In a move that puts New Jersey in the forefront of regulating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the NJDEP on June 1 adopted final maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) and groundwater quality standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) of 0.014 micrograms per liter (µg/l) and for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) of 0.013 µg/l (13 and 14 parts per trillion respectively). Monitoring requirements are also specified for water suppliers and these substances are also now regulated under the Private Well Testing Act and are designated as hazardous substances under the Spill Compensation and Control Act.  Finally, the new standards apply to discharge to groundwater permits issued under the NJPDES program.  This action is in addition to the prior standard setting for another PFAS, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), which established an MCL and groundwater quality and remediation standard of .013 µg/l in September 2018.

These actions compare to USEPA’s guidance which “recommends” using a screening level of 40 parts per trillion and EPA’s Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory level of 70 ppt as the “preliminary remediation goal” for cleanups proceeding under federal programs (CERCLA and RCRA) where no state promulgated standards exist. EPA is also working on developing a federal MCL but has yet to announce a proposal.

The new state standards go into effect immediately.  For site remediation purposes, NJDEP has made reference to its May 2019 guidance document on the implementation of the former “interim specific groundwater quality standards” for PFOA and PFOS (.01 µg/l) which addresses how a site should be evaluated for the potential presence of these constituents and how they should be investigated and documented in submissions to NJDEP.

Since the interim standard was slightly more stringent than the final standard and has been in effect for a year, ongoing cleanups should not be significantly affected beyond what had been previously required.  Notably, the NJDEP guidance specifies that for sites that received an unrestricted use final remediation document (i.e., unrestricted use NFA or RAO) prior to the publication of the interim standards, “no further evaluation is required”.  For sites that received a limited restricted use or restricted use final remediation document at which PFOA or PFOS is a contaminant of concern, the site must be evaluated for these constituents prior to and be reported in the next biennial certification. Presumably, that procedure remains in effect with respect to the final standards.

Questions on the above may be directed to Bruce Katcher at 484-430-2320.