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Coastal Zone Conversion Permits

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has developed regulations for Coastal Zone Conversion Permits, which allow industrial reuse of 14 existing sites of heavy industry use within Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

Division of Climate, Coastal, & Energy
100 W. Water Street, Suite 5A
Dover, DE 19904
CZA_Program@delaware.gov
302.735.3480

The new permit process is called for under the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act (CZCPA), which allows for conversion of these sites to additional or alternative heavy industry use. Permits for conversions require an assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of the proposed conversion.

History

In 1971, the Delaware Coastal Zone Act allowed heavy industry or bulk product transfer facilities on these 14 sites to continue while prohibiting new heavy industry uses in the Coastal Zone. Today, some of these sites are dormant or underutilized, and the prior use has been abandoned.

In order to encourage economic development on these already developed sites, the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act amended the Delaware Coastal Zone Act and authorized DNREC to issue permits for the construction and operation of new heavy industry uses within the 14 existing sites of heavy industry use within the state’s Coastal Zone. It also authorized DNREC to issue permits for the bulk transfer of products under certain circumstances.

The Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act required DNREC to develop regulations for the issuance of conversion permits. The
regulations were approved by the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board, and were published in the Sep. 2019, Delaware Register of Regulations.

The Act also directed DNREC to provide a baseline report summarizing the contamination and remediation status of the 14 heavy industry use sites and to update this report every two years.

Key points

In addition to fulfilling the requirements of receiving a permit under the Coastal Zone Act, applicants seeking a Coastal Zone Conversion Permit must provide additional information, including:

  • information on the environmental impact and economic effect of any of the previous uses at the site
  • information on the environmental impact and economic effect of the alternative or additional heavy industry use or bulk product transfer activity
  • the net environmental improvement or economic improvement, or both, inherent in the alternative or additional heavy industry use or bulk product transfer activity as compared to the most recent heavy industry use engaged in at that site
  • evidence that the owner, prospective owner or applicant for the conversion permit under this section has complied with, and will continue to comply with, the requirements of the Delaware Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act, Chapter 91 of this title, and any other relevant state or federal environmental statutes, and shall agree to pay all costs of such compliance
  • a plan to prepare the site for potential impacts of sea-level rise and coastal storms over the anticipated useful life of the facility and infrastructure in connection with the applied-for use
  • an offset proposal that meets the requirements established by and includes the contents specified in regulations promulgated under this chapter and more than offsets the facility’s negative environmental impacts on an annual basis. Such proposal shall favor offsets that directly benefit Delaware
  • a timeframe for the conversion to an additional or alternative heavy industry use or bulk product transfer facility
  • evidence of financial assurances in sufficient form and amount necessary to ensure that there are sufficient resources for all costs of compliance with the Delaware Hazardous Substances Control Act and other relevant state and federal environmental statutes concerning contamination on the site at the time of application; and upon the event of an incident resulting in environmental contamination, or upon termination, abandonment or liquidation of all activities  at the site of any heavy industry use, all means will be taken to minimize environmental damage and stabilize and secure the heavy industry use site in accordance with a concept plan that will be approved by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

A final plan approved by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is required prior to the initiation of operation of the activity being authorized under the conversion permit.

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