EPA's Brownfields Program Print E-mail

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Assessment Program involves two levels of assessment activity prior to clean-up activities.  First, in the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment non-intrusive site visits are made to the property by an Environmental Engineer.  With the permission of the owner the engineer merely walks over the site and through the buildings and collects relevant information about the site and its surroundings.  Next, extensive information is collected about the site from a variety of sources, including any owners.  Previous uses of the site as well as disposition or changes to the site are noted.  Possible contamination and types of hazards likely on the site and based upon the site visit and its history are noted in preparation for the next Phase.  

In the Phase II Assessment Program, direct intrusion may be made upon the site with the agreement of the owner.  For example, soil or building material samples may be collected and analyzed.  Deep soil borings may be required and surrounding properties may need to be investigated.  Owners must agree to the more intensive intrusion onto their properties.  The degree, extent and type of contamination are determined.  Also the environmental engineer prepares possible reuse schemes that would work with the degree and extent of hazards on the site, as well as completes clean-up plans that minimize these hazards based upon particular reuse schemes.  The goal is not to necessarily remove all contamination, but to insure that given a particular use, the clean-up manner in which the hazards are addressed will not pose an environmental or health problem.  During this phase it is preferable to have potential redevelopment options initiated and developer(s) identified.  The environmental engineer will be required to identify and recommend clean-up schemes matched with the redevelopment reuse options.

Coupled with these phases are outreach planning and community involvement efforts related to the brownfield sites and the affected communities.  Property owners and redevelopment resources, including developers and financial institutions, and community organizations are extensively involved in these and subsequent phases.   

Following the assessment phases the property enters the Clean-up Phase that must be linked to a development or reuse option. EPA and other resources are available to assist in this effort, and the cleanup is linked to a possible redevelopment scheme or reuse of the property so that all clean-up needs can be achieved along with the realization of the redevelopment scheme.  There are resources, including an EPA clean-up grant and/or loan, to assist with this effort as indicated in the next section, but private and/or public sector investment is critical and essential.

For more information see the EPA website.


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