Brownfields Process

This webpage outlines the SWRPC Brownfields Assessment Program Process. We encourage you to contact us directly to answer any questions you have about a specific site. 

Site Nomination & Eligibility Determination

Step One: Site Nomination.

If you are an innocent landowner, prospective buyer, or contiguous property owner, this program can offer varying degrees of liability protection regarding contamination that already exists on the property.

Property owners liable for site contamination may also participate; however, funding assistance for cleanup is limited.

Anyone may nominate a site. However, if nominated by a private entity, the municipal government must support the nomination. 

Step Two: Eligibility determination.

Once a site is nominated, the Brownfields Advisory Committee (BrAC) will review the site to determine if it is eligible. See site selection criteria for a list of the criteria considered when determining site eligibility.

Step Three: Sign Owner Contracts

Upon approval, the site owner must sign the Owner Participation Form and Release of Claims form (please contact SWRPC staff for these forms).

If the site is abandoned, SWRPC staff will work with the town to contact the former site owner.

 

Assessment

Step one: Phase I ESA

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is the first assessment step for any site. It is used to determine the likelihood that some form of environmental contamination is present at the site.

The ESA includes a visual assessment, interviews with past and present owners, a search for any environmental liens, a review of historical documents, a search of federal, state, and local databases regarding contamination at or near the site, and a number of other investigations.

Findings in a Phase I report will determine whether or not further site investigation is warranted (i.e. Phase II ESA).

Some brownfields projects conclude after completion of a Phase I ESA. In those cases environmental consultants typically find that there isn’t likely to be the presence of serious contamination on the property.

Phase I assessments typically take 60-90 days to complete.

 

Step two: Phase II Environmental Site Assessment

Phase II ESAs result in a more comprehensive report of what contaminants are present on the property and the level of contamination.

Typical Phase II assessments include performance of soil borings and collections of soil samples, installation of monitoring wells and collections of groundwater samples, and analysis of samples. Occasionally air quality samples are appropriate.

If contaminant levels are above state standards, investigations are likely to contain a recommendation for a Phase III Environmental Site Assessment and Remedial Action Plan. Many brownfields projects conclude after completion of a Phase II ESA and a finding that contaminant levels are below state standards.

Depending on the size and complexity of the site, a Phase II ESA can take anywhere from 6-12+ months to complete.

 

Remedial Action Planning

Phase III Environmental Site Assessment & Remedial Action Plan

The Phase III Investigation and Remedial Action Plan (RAP) is, typically, the final stage of the SWRPC Brownfields Assessment Program to design the remediation or cleanup of the property.

Phase III Investigations may consist of the additional collection of soil and groundwater samples and continued investigation of any anomalies discovered during the Phase II ESA.

The RAP consists of a Soils and Materials Management Plan for off-site disposal or on-site reuse of impacted soils, suggestions for ongoing groundwater monitoring, a list of permit requirements needed to engage in remedial actions, and suggestions for the use of institutional controls such as activity and use restrictions.

Completion of a Phase III Investigation and RAP triggers necessity of on-site cleanup. A typical time frame is 60-90 days.

 

Clean-Up and Reuse

Clean-Up

While the SWRPC Brownfields Program cannot provide funds for site clean-up or redevelopment, we can use program funds to market properties in the program and for redevelopment planning activities, such as creating a Remedial Implementation Plan (RIP).

To help with the cost of site cleanup, the EPA offers Brownfields Cleaup Grants of up to $200,000, which provide direct funding for cleanup activities at specific sites. There are also a number of low-interest rate revolving loans available for clean-ups and eligibility for those loans varies. See our Cleanup Funding Reference sheet (PDF) for more information.

Reuse

The ultimate goal of the Brownfields Program is to restore properties to productive uses that benefit the community, the environment, and public health. Uses of cleaned-up Brownfields range from business and industry to housing, community facilities, and public green space. For more information about how previous SWRPC Brownfields sites have been reused, please see our Participating Sites page. 

Depending on the contaminants found and the cleanup method used, the site may have Activity and Use Restrictions (AURs) which limit the type of activities and uses on site in order to minimize the risk of exposure to contaminants.

AURs are determined on a case-by-case basis and are normally used when waste is left onsite and when there is a limit to the activities that can safely take place at the site, i.e., the site cannot support unlimited use and unrestricted direct contact exposure.