Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Solid Waste and Emergency Response

Brownfields - Sites with Perceived Contamination

Brownfield sites are abandoned or underutilized land previously used for industrial purposes or certain commercial uses. The land may be contaminated by low concentrations of hazardous waste or pollution, or perceived to be contaminated, and has the potential to be developed and reused. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

Brownfields Activities
EPA’s Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse these brownfield properties. The cleanup of a Brownfield site usually involves several steps. EPA’s Brownfields Program provides financial and technical assistance to communities in each stage of planning, assessment and cleanup, which include:

  • Planning
  • Assessment
    • Phase I Environmental Assessment
    • Phase II Environmental Assessment
  • Cleanup
    • Evaluate cleanup alternatives
    • Public comment
    • Cleanup activities
    • Institutional Controls/Engineering Controls (IC/ECs)
      • Ensure that cleanups are protective of human health and the environment
      • Require local governments to monitor
      • Enforceable
      • Transparent to the public
    • Long Term Stewardship requirements

The Brownfields Program also provides competitive Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training to entities to train individuals adversely affected by brownfields in their area, and implements the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Communities Program. TAB provides technical assistance at no cost to communities including individuals who need technical assistance in dealing with brownfield challenges throughout all phases of assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment.

Why Community Engagement Improves the Brownfields Program:

Revitalized land can be reused in ways that offer the greatest local benefit to communities — from creating public parks and restoring local ecosystems to commercial and residential redevelopment projects. All segments of the community should be able to participate in planning the potential reuse of these properties. Community members may also have local knowledge of past site operations and the location of contamination, which may help determine cleanup plans and potential future use of the property.

We want your feedback about how we involve communities in Brownfields activities. Please share your experiences with these processes and your ideas for improvement.

Planning - Brownfields Area-wide Planning Pilot Program

Planning for site reuse and neighborhood revitalization occurs throughout the full continuum of the site assessment and cleanup process. EPA’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program recently launched the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) Pilot Program to enable communities to conduct area-wide planning activities to help address and revitalize an area impacted by brownfield sites, such as a neighborhood, city block, district or corridor. This approach can result in area-wide efficiencies for brownfield redevelopment, since multiple sites are often connected through infrastructure and approaching the assessment and cleanup needs of a brownfields-impacted area can be more effective than focusing on individual sites in isolation of the surrounding area. Area-wide planning enables communities to identify environmental improvements and infrastructure necessary to redevelop brownfield sites, and collectively consider local needs for economic development and job creation, housing, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, and other services. The Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program's goal is to assist 20 communities with initiating development of an area-wide plan, and identifying next steps and resources needed to implement the plan.

How we involve communities:
The Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program’s goal is to work in partnership with local communities (governments, nonprofits, and other community-based organizations) to help create a shared vision for brownfields-impacted areas, including planning for brownfield sites reuse and supporting area-wide revitalization strategies. The Program encourages continued meaningful community involvement in a locally-driven planning process which will inform property assessment, cleanup and subsequent reuse of brownfield sites. Program applicants responded to ranking criteria by describing how the brownfields-impacted area has been affected by contamination and economic disinvestment, and providing specific information on how the applicant will identify opportunities and facilitate community involvement to address those needs. The applicants also provided information on the extent to which the applicant leads the existing area-wide planning partnership within the brownfields-impacted area; that the partnership is effective; that the partnership is inclusive and representative; and that the partnership has existing broad support. To help demonstrate this, applicants submitted a Partnership List of local community organizations, government entities, and individuals who have been involved in the area-wide planning partnership and a description of the partnership’s history.

Links to More Information:
Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program

Top of page

Assessment

Assessment Grants

Assessment grants provide funding for a grant recipient to inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community involvement related to brownfield sites or sites perceived to be brownfields site.

How we involve communities:
Communities are involved in the assessment grant process through two very important ranking criterion: Community Need and Community Engagement & Partnerships.

  • Community Need: Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated based on the quality and extent of the applicant’s description of the health, welfare, environmental, and financial needs of the targeted community as it is affected by the presence of brownfields.
  • Community Engagement & Partnerships: Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated based on:
    • the applicant’s plan for engaging the targeted community in the project to be funded under this grant;
    • the extent to which the applicant has identified and established relationships with the partners necessary to achieve the project's goals; and
    • the extent to which the support letters provided by community-based organizations involved with the project demonstrate specific and valuable commitments to the project.

Communities will continue to be engaged in assessment grant projects as the grants are implemented through ongoing community consultation.

Links to More Information:
Brownfields Assessment Pilots/Grants

Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA) Program

The TBA Program is designed to help states, tribes, and municipalities–especially those without EPA Brownfields Assessment Grants–minimize the uncertainties of contamination often associated with brownfields. TBAs are assessments conducted directly by EPA (using contract resources) and are provided at no cost to the community. TBA assistance can include assessment related activities such as inventory, assessment, cleanup, and reuse planning. TBA assistance is available through two sources: directly from EPA through EPA Regional Brownfields offices and from state or tribal voluntary response program offices receiving funding.

How we involve communities:
In order to receive funding, there must be clear community vision and support. The surrounding community is consulted at each phase of the provided service. This is one of the only EPA Brownfields Programs in which the community may contact an EPA Brownfields Regional contact to request direct assistance for a property with perceived contamination. The TBA selection process varies with each EPA Region and by each state and tribal voluntary response program with the having discretion in selecting areas to target. Typically EPA prefers to conduct TBAs that would result in the greatest community benefit.

Links to More Information:
Targeted Brownfields Assessments
EPA Targeted Brownfields Assessments – The Basics (PDF) (2 pp, 147K, about PDF)
Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Fact Sheet (PDF) (4 pp, 438K, about PDF)
Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities – Questions and Answers (PDF) (4 pp, 29K, about PDF)

Top of page

Cleanup

Revolving Loan Fund Grants

Revolving Loan Fund Grants enables States, political subdivisions, and Indian tribes to make low interest loans and subgrants to carryout cleanup activities at brownfields properties.

How we involve communities:
Communities are involved in the revolving loan fund grant process through two very important ranking criterion: Community Need and Community Engagement & Partnerships.

  • Community Need: Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated based on the quality and extent of the applicant's description of the health, welfare, environmental, and financial needs of the targeted community as it is affected by the presence of brownfields.
  • Community Engagement & Partnerships: Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated based on:
    • the applicant’s plan for engaging the targeted community in the project to be funded under this grant;
    • the extent to which the applicant has identified and established relationships with the partners necessary to achieve the project's goals; and
    • the extent to which the support letters provided by community-based organizations involved with the project demonstrate specific and valuable commitments to the project.
  • Environmental Cleanup Responsibilities (Brownfields programmatic requirements): The applicant must prepare a site-specific community relations plan describing how the recipient plans to satisfy the public involvement requirements of:
    • Notifying the public on the chosen property cleanup plan and the other alternative cleanup plans that were considered, and allowing for public comment and input.
    • Providing written responses to public comments, and documentation of any changes to the cleanup plan.
    • Preparing a written record, informing the public as to its availability, and placing it in locations that is easily accessible to the general public for review. The record includes the analyses of cleanup options, the chosen cleanup option, property investigation reports, the cleanup plan, cleanup standards used, responses to public comments, and verification that shows that cleanups are complete.

Communities will continue to be engaged during the implementation of the RLF grants as loan and subgrant projects are submitted and approved. Throughout the entire cleanup process, the community has the opportunity to be engaged in cleanup and reuse planning.

Links to More Information:
Revolving Loan Fund Pilot/Grants

Cleanup Grants

Cleanup grants provide funding for a grant recipient to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites.

How we involve communities:
Communities are involved in the cleanup grant process through two very important ranking criterion: Community Need and Community Engagement and, Partnerships; and one Programmatic Requirement: Environmental Cleanup Responsibilities.

  • Community Need: Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated based on the quality and extent of the applicant's description of the health, welfare, environmental, and financial needs of the targeted community as it is affected by the presence of brownfields.
  • Community Engagement & Partnerships: Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated based on:
    • the applicant's plan for engaging the targeted community in the project to be funded under this grant;
    • the extent to which the applicant has identified and established relationships with the partners necessary to achieve the project’s goals; and
    • the extent to which the support letters provided by community-based organizations involved with the project demonstrate specific and valuable commitments to the project.
  • Environmental Cleanup Responsibilities (Brownfields programmatic requirements): The applicant must prepare a site-specific community relations plan describing how the recipient plans to satisfy the public involvement requirements of:
    • Notifying the public on the chosen property cleanup plan and the other alternative cleanup plans that were considered, and allowing for public comment and input.
    • Providing written responses to public comments, and documentation of any changes to the cleanup plan.
    • Preparing a written record of the cleanup plans and activities and informing the public as to its availability. The written record is placed in locations that are easily accessible to the general public for review. The record includes documents that support the analyses of cleanup options, the chosen cleanup option, property investigation reports, the cleanup plan, cleanup standards used, responses to public comments, and verification that shows that cleanups are complete.

Communities will continue to be engaged during the implementation of the Cleanup grants through opportunities to comment on cleanup and reuse planning and by making sure cleanup plans including IC/ECs implementation that are protective of human health and the environment.

Links to More Information:
Brownfields Cleanup Grants

Voluntary Cleanup Programs (State and Tribal Response Programs)

State and Tribal may have resources that can help a community address brownfields cleanup and redevelopment while ensuring protective and sustainable cleanups for both the affected community and the environment.

How we involve communities:
There are several ways in which a community can get involved with a State and/or Tribal Response Program. Some community involvement activities may include:

  • Public access to documents and related materials that a state, tribe, or party conducting the cleanup is relying on or developing in making cleanup decisions or conducting site activities;
  • Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on cleanup plans and site activity;
  • A mechanism by which a person who is, or may be, affected by a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant at a brownfields site—located in the community in which the person works or resides—may request that a site assessment be conducted. The appropriate state or tribal official must consider this request and appropriately respond; and
  • State programs may maintain and annually update a publicly accessible record of sites at which response actions have been completed in the past year and planned for the upcoming year.

Links to More Information:
State and Tribal Response Programs

Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Communities Program

The TAB program helps guide communities through the cleanup and redevelopment process at brownfield properties. Communities and municipalities often need help to understand the technical issues associated with brownfields projects – issues such as: deciphering technical reports; realizing health impacts and risks; financing brownfields projects; understanding science or environmental policy; learning how best to involve the community; and working with local, state or federal governments.

How we involve communities:
The TAB program utilizes four organizations with TAB Grants to offer technical assistance to communities facing brownfields challenges. Communities receive to:

  • Review and explain brownfield related technical reports
  • Provide information about basic science, environmental policy and other technical matters related to brownfield sites
  • Help understand health risks associated with a brownfield property
  • Provide information to assist with understanding environmental issues and how they affect brownfield cleanup and redevelopment
  • Facilitate brownfield redevelopment efforts by supporting community and other stakeholder involvement activities.

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training

Annual Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grants allow nonprofit and other organizations to recruit, train, and place predominantly low-income and minority, unemployed and under-employed people living in areas affected by solid and hazardous waste. Residents learn the skills needed to secure full-time, sustainable employment in the environmental field, including assessment and cleanup. These green jobs reduce environmental contamination and build more sustainable futures for communities.

How we involve communities:
The job training program is a program that not only involves the community through its guideline criterion, but that essentially trains the community in environmental courses so that the community becomes sustainable through green jobs.

Communities are involved in the job training grant process through two very important ranking criterion: Community Need, and Community involvement and Employer Partnerships.

  • Community Need: Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated based on the quality and extent of the applicant’s description of the health, welfare, environmental, and financial needs of the targeted community as it is affected by the presence of brownfields.
  • Community involvement and Employer Partnerships: Proposals are evaluates on the applicant's efforts to notify and involve the community early on in the application process, to partner with local community groups, labor unions with apprenticeship programs, Workforce Investment Boards, and academic institutions located in or near the brownfield community to provide non-environmental training and to involve the employer community (e.g., local businesses, environmental contractors, brownfield site owners) in the development of the proposed job training program (e.g., curriculum development, advisory councils, apprenticeships, and mentoring). In addition to the evaluation criteria outlined above, the Brownfields Program also conducts a community involvement and employer verification analysis to evaluate the extent to which community-based organizations and employers are, and will be, involved in the development and delivery of local training programs. This analysis is taken into consideration during the evaluation of proposals as cited in the grant application guidelines.

OSWER’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program

In 2010, the Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR) lead an effort to more closely collaborate on workforce development and job training with other programs within EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) to develop a job training cooperative agreement opportunity that includes expanded training in other environmental media outside the traditional scope of just brownfields. As a result of this collaboration, the former "Brownfields Job Training Grants Program" was expanded and will now be referred to as the "Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants Program." This new program includes training individuals in areas, such as: the cleanup of abandoned landfills, recycling center operator training, training in the prevention of leaking underground storage tanks, oil spill response and cleanup, emergency response, innovative and alternative treatment technologies, training geared towards placing graduates of the program in firms engaged in Superfund and Federal Facility Site cleanups, as well as continued support for training in brownfields core hazardous waste assessment and cleanup skills.

Rather than seeing assessment and cleanup jobs filled by outside contractors, the EWDJT provides local residents of communities historically impacted by brownfields and other environmentally contaminated properties or waste related facilities an opportunity to take environmental training offered through the programs in an effort to secure employment in areas where EPA OSWER funded activities are taking place. By working cross programmatically through OSWER, the EWDJT Program better equips trainees with a diversity of environmental skills that facilitates sustainable, long-term employment in the land remediation and larger environmental field. In FY11, OBLR will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the public to compete for EWDJT funding.

Links to More Information:
Brownfields Job Training

Top of page

 

Jump to main content.