The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has developed regulations to implement a new permit process to allow industrial reuse of 14 existing sites of heavy industry use within Delaware’s Coastal Zone.
On August 26, 2019, following a joint public hearing by DNREC and the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board, the Board approved amendments to the Regulations Governing Delaware’s Coastal Zone (7 DE Admin. Code 101) to implement Coastal Zone Conversion Permits.
Division of Climate, Coastal, & Energy
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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 will require an assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of the proposed conversion.
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.
On August 2, 2017, Governor John Carney signed the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act, amending the Delaware Coastal Zone Act. The new Act 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 by October 1, 2019. The regulations were to be approved by the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board, after a public hearing.
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.
The regulatory development process was initiated with a Start Action Notice, signed by DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin on September 28, 2017.
To ensure a transparent process with public input and involvement, DNREC contracted with the Consensus Building Institute (CBI) to conduct in-person stakeholder interviews in October and November of 2017. DNREC also hosted two public workshops in November 2017 to account for stakeholder concerns. This early public engagement resulted in 31 stakeholder interviews, nearly 80 people engaged at the two public workshops, and 42 written public comments.
Informed by this public input, CBI developed a summary report that outlined a framework for a collaborative regulatory development process, including recommendations to DNREC on the formation and membership of a Regulatory Advisory Committee.
DNREC, guided by these recommendations, held an open nomination process for membership on a Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act Regulatory Advisory Committee. In June 2018, DNREC announced the Committee’s membership, which represented a diversity of interests and views, including environmental organizations, business and industry, affected communities, government planners, and public health. The Committee was chaired by Justice Randy J. Holland, who retired from the Delaware Supreme Court in 2017, after a career of over 30 years.
The Committee met monthly from June 2018 through April 2019. All meetings were facilitated by CBI and the Committee Chair (in a non-voting role). Meeting discussions were informed by Committee-formed Work Groups that provided technical support on various conversion permit-related topics. The Committee submitted its Final Report to Secretary Garvin in April 2019, outlining recommendations on the regulatory approach and content of conversion permit regulations.
Following the Regulatory Advisory Committee process, the committee’s final report was used to draft amendments to the regulations for Secretary Garvin for review. The draft of the regulations was published in the June 1, 2019 issue of the state Register of Regulations. DNREC and the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board held a joint public hearing on the draft amendments on June 24, 2019. Following the hearing, and review of the public comments, Secretary Garvin submitted the draft amendments to the Board for consideration. On August 26, 2019, the Board approved amendments, effective September 11, 2019.