New Initiative for Superfund Land Reuse Announced

April 24, 2003
On Earth Day, April 22, EPA announced a comprehensive new initiative calling for early consideration of land reuse in all cleanup decisions within the Superfund, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Underground Storage Tanks and Brownfields programs.

The initiative, called the Land Revitalization Agenda, outlines over 60 specific ways to help integrate land reuse into EPA's cleanup programs. Under the agenda, EPA will leverage grant resources across multiple federal cleanup programs to facilitate cleanup and reuse. In addition, EPA will test the use of written technical determinations stating that cleaned-up properties are ready for reuse.

"This is the Earth Day message for the new millennium: cleanup alone is not enough," said Marianne Lamont Horinko, EPA assistant administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Cleanup is the first step, and the most important, but we must make these sites available to the community, to provide jobs, needed tax revenues and recreational benefits that were not there before."

Under the new initiative, revitalization and reuse will be a formal part of the planning at every site EPA cleans up under every program the agency manages.

"It's not discretionary, and it's not a pilot program," said Horinko, when she unveiled the Land Revitalization Agenda to a group of business leaders at the Union League Club in Chicago. Two main goals of the agenda are to clean up contaminated land resources so that communities are able to safely return them to productive use and to ensure that cleanups protect public health, welfare, and the environment and that cleanups are consistent with future land use.

Throughout the country, there are many examples that demonstrate the benefits of redevelopment. In Chicago, an Underground Storage Tank Pilot grant helped a redeveloper turn a former abandoned gas station and auto repair shop into low-income housing. In Philadelphia, the Publicker Superfund site was cleaned up and removed from Superfund's National Priorities List, the tax revenue from the site went up by 40 percent and the market value for the area around the site increased by more than $47 million.

In Clearwater, Fla., as a result of a Brownfields Pilot grant, a 14-acre site of a former auto service center that was contaminated with underground oil, diesel and gasoline storage tanks is now home to Information Management Resources Global Center Headquarters. That project has resulted in more than $51 million in capital investment and is the largest business deal in the city's history. Redevelopment plans call for six new buildings with a total of 310,000 square feet of office space.

To date, two buildings have opened, employing more than 500 employees. In the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, Md., a 27-acre peninsula was successfully cleaned up under RCRA's Corrective Action Program. Plans for Harbor Point redevelopment call for 1.8 million square feet of mixed-used space, representing up to $400 million in new investment and creating as many as 5,000 jobs.

In January 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which authorizes up to $250 million per year for Brownfields grants, including up to $50 million for the assessment and cleanup of low-risk petroleum contaminated sites. Since its inception in 1995, the Brownfields Program has awarded over 500 grants to assess Brownfields sites and to make loans to conduct cleanups.

EPA announced the first Underground Storage Tank pilot grants in November 2000 and has since awarded 50 grants. As a result of the RCRA Corrective Action Program, EPA and the states now have brought hundreds of RCRA facilities under control. Nearly 40 percent of these sites have either completed or made significant progress in their cleanups.

To learn more about the Land Revitalization Agenda, visit www.epa.gov/oswer/landrevitalization.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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