Monday, July 1, 2013

EPA & Brownfield

Brownfield Sites
What are Brownfield sites?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Brownfield sites as:

With certain legal exclusions and additions, the term "brownfield site" means real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”   

Brownfield sites could be contaminated old abandoned industrial sites: old mill buildings in the North East, power plants, oil refineries, dry cleaners and other industrial facilities. Some sites may not be contaminated, like abandoned airstrip and warehouses.  According to the Environmental Law Institute, there could over 450,000 the Brownfield sites in the USA ( ).

Remediation of Brownfield sites and Funding Opportunities

The remediation of Brownfield sites are usually joint venture projects between the EPA, states and local communities, with the goal to reuse the Brownfield sites and to revitalize the local economy. The EPA has set four main goals for the Brownfield projects: protecting health and environment, sustainability or reuse the properties, promoting partnership in the communities and economic development in the community ( ). 

The EPA has many funding opportunities for the cleanup process of these properties.   State agencies identify the Brownfield sites and allocate the resources.    

There are four types of grant available through the EPA:

1.     Assessment grants:  Help to assess the sites, planning and community outreach.
2.     Loans:  Revolving loans or other funding for the project.
3.     Cleanup grant:  Funding for cleanup activities.
4.     Job training:  Grants for environmental training to the Brownfield local community.

More information about how to apply for the EPA grants could be found at:

 Success stories of remediated Brownfield sites:

Paul E. Tsongas Center, University of Massachusetts, Lowell (Formally Paul E. Tsongas Arena)

Since 1800, this site was polluted with many contaminants like asbestos,

heavy metals, chlorinated solvents, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and others. 
The City of Lowell used the EPA grants to develop this Brownfield site into a sports arena and a site for major concerts and public events.  Now, this site hosts Tsongas Center – a $30 million sports arena opened in January, 1998.  It can seat 7,800 sport fans.  The outdoor lawn can also hold 3,500 people for outdoor festival and concerts.  

In 2009, University of Massachusetts, Lowell took the ownership of this arena from the City of Lowell.

Lawrence Community Works, Massachusetts

Union Crossing 1 is now a community of 60 affordable housing units.  However, before remediation, these housing communities were old mill buildings with soil and ground water contaminated with petroleum. Beginning as a foundry site, these buildings were converted in 1916, into a textile mill that was operational until 1950.    

Furthermore, this Brownfield site is also an example of how the EPA works towards the Principles of Livability: not only is this former mill used for housing, but it is also walking distance to major public transit.       

Funding for this project came from both the private and public sectors.   This project could create 125 – 175 temporary construction jobs and over 200 permanent new jobs, once completed. 

Union Crossing 1

The successful remediation of Brownfield sites requires the cooperation between the EPA, state and local governments and agencies, private organizations and the local community.  The remediation of Brownfield site could also revitalize the local economy.   Furthermore, there are many tax credits, loans, revolving funds and other financial help available to encourage the community and the private sector to get involved with the remediation of Brownfield sites.

Fully restored entrance door of the Victorian mill building once used as warehouse and sales office, Lawrence, Massachusetts

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