Coastal Zone redevelopment legislation introduced

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A bill has been filed that would allow a permitting process, clean-up and redevelopment of a number of industrial sites in Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

The 1971 Coastal Zone Act (CZA) regulates heavy industrial and manufacturing activities in Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

During that time, several industries that were grandfathered under the original CZA law have closed down.

Sites include the former Chemours Edgemoor site, which has been acquired by Diamond State Port Corp., operator of the Port of Wilmington and area around the Delaware City Refinery.

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See map below.

HB 190 sites

There have long been complaints that the Coastal Zone Act adds another layer of repettitie regulation that delays and ultimately leadsto prospective employers going elsewhere.

The act dates back to the early 1970s, a time when environmental regulations were much less strict.

Sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski and Sen. Bryan Townsend, the bill would only allow for 14 sites – mostly concentrated in northern New Castle County as subject to the conversion permit.

“I am someone who enjoys our coastal areas regularly, and want to make sure our natural resources are protected. At the same time, we have to balance that protection against the economic viability and future of our state,” said Osienski, D-Newark. “The majority of the abandoned sites that our bill would address are still polluted. Our bill would set a high bar for planning, remediation, and regulatory control.

Under HB 190, an interested industry would need to clean the brownfield, following the Delaware Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act and removing pollution from the site. A new operator also would have to show that it has the financial backing and available funds to complete any future remedial action.

A company applying for a conversion permit would also have to submit a sea-level rise plan. Additionally, there would be restrictions on what types of industries could operate along the coast. Refineries processing crude oil, basic cellulose pulp paper mills, and incinerators would continue to be forbidden.

“This legislation attempts to ensure the proper balance between environmental protection and economic growth,” said Townsend, D-Newark, the prime Senate sponsor of HB 190. “There’s no question the 1971 Coastal Zone Act was a landmark piece of environmental legislation, but the unintended consequence has become abandoned, polluted sites that were always anticipated to be in operation – regulated, clean, remediated, but in operation. This legislation makes the prospect for economic growth a reality again while preserving the vast majority of our treasured coastline for future generations.”

Under the bill, bulk product transfers would be allowed at nine sites, with certain limitations and only so long as they support industry at those sites or elsewhere in the coastal zone. Current law prohibits the transfer of liquefied natural gas.

“We realize our proposal will evoke strong opinions, and we know that this is a complex initiative that will require significant discussions in legislative hearings,” Rep. Osienski said. “But if we do not take these steps, then these abandoned, polluted sites will simply sit for another generation, failing both the spirit of the CZA as well as our current and future workforce.”

The bill did result in a strong response from environmental activist Amy Roe and Delaware Audobon, an organization that has been involved in Coastal Zone litigation.

HB 190 was assigned to the House Natural Resources Committee.

Roe comes out swinging at Coastal Zone bill

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