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Land Revitalization Action Team

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Former Tranguch Tire Center Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Former Tranguch Tire Center, Hazleton, Pennsylvania

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Purpose   

Region 3 has assembled a Land Revitalization Action Team (LRAT) to respond expeditiously to public and private inquiries regarding the revitalization of formerly contaminated property. Although geared primarily towards the revitalization of Superfund sites, the LRAT will address inquiries by interested parties regarding all contaminated and formerly contaminated property where there was or currently is a Federal interest. The objective is to advise the interested party, or prospective purchaser, of EPA’s statutory, fiduciary, and enforcement interests at the property. The LRAT provides timely, current and comprehensive property information to an interested party. The party can use this information to make an informed business decision regarding the potential for land revitalization at a property.

Through this approach, the Region can ensure that interested parties are aware of a site’s environmental status and receive other pertinent information needed in their decision making process regarding involvement with the property. If an interested party or prospective purchaser decides to revitalize Superfund and RCRA Corrective Action sites, the LRAT will attempt to ensure that activities will be consistent with the selected remedy and corrective actions required for the long term protection of human health and the environment. In addition, prospective purchasers who use the LRAT’s services will be less likely to interfere with or impede EPA’s response actions, and, in some instances, may even expedite the cleanup.

Benefits to Interested Parties and Prospective Purchasers

This team approach ensures that Region 3 is able to provide consistent and reliable information to interested parties in a timely manner. Together, the LRAT members have the knowledge to address both general and site-specific issues that are relevant to revitalization inquiries. EPA staff, including Remedial Project Managers and On-Scene Coordinators, endorses the team approach because they recognize that a well-informed purchaser will not impede EPA’s cleanup or interfere with the integrity of institutional and engineering controls. Also, because interested parties receive information from the LRAT on liability protection, liens, and other pertinent information at the outset, demands on EPA staff are reduced throughout the redevelopment process.

Since the Team’s inception in February 2007, it has received four or five inquiries each month and has followed through with meetings and conference calls. The meetings and conference calls are used to frame the relevant issues for the interested party, including any associated with the availability of the property before full cleanup is achieved.

The LRAT team has also responded to requests from current property owners or interested parties to provide information summarizing the EPA clean-up related activities undertaken at their property and the known or anticipated site conditions, including information on any remaining on-site contamination at the completion of the clean-up activities. The document prepared by EPA may also identify other federal, state, or local agencies that might have pertinent information concerning the reuse of the property.  All specific property documents prepared are solely intended to be used as an information tool to facilitate future property reuse and are not to be relied upon as substitution for or replacement of further due-diligence or legal inquiries that should be conducted prior to purchasing a property.   
A prospective purchaser may sometimes conduct part of the site cleanup in exchange for EPA’s assistance in meeting the purchaser’s construction schedule or in exchange for the resolution of a windfall lien. Equipped with information or assistance from EPA, prospective purchasers can make well-informed decisions regarding redevelopment plans.

Region 3 Land Revitalization Team Process

Although parties are not required to contact EPA before purchasing a Superfund site, some will initiate a revitalization inquiry through EPA. When this occurs, the LRAT assembles to provide assistance. The Team consists of permanent members from the Superfund Cost Recovery Branch; the Land Revitalization Team Leader; the Superfund Redevelopment Coordinator; and the Office of Regional Counsel. In addition, Regional personnel for the site in question (the Remedial Project Manager, On Scene Coordinator, attorney and others) will be added to the Team as appropriate. Region 3 will also coordinate with EPA Headquarters and the state cleanup programs as needed. Thus, the LRAT is well-equipped to answer most questions about the site and to address revitalization issues. Because Region 3 is dedicated to facilitating the appropriate revitalization of contaminated properties, a meeting or conference call will be scheduled as quickly as the LRAT members’ and interested party’s schedules allow. Issues to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

Follow-up meetings, conference calls, and site visits may also be necessary. The interested party is also encouraged to contact the state to discuss any state cleanup and liability issues. If the interested party decides to purchase the property, EPA can provide additional revitalization tools, such as status/comfort letters and Ready for Reuse Determinations, and can offer to settle EPA liens.

The Compatibility of Revitalization Plans and EPA’s Cleanup Plan

Any proposed revitalization plan needs to be compatible with EPA’s cleanup plan for a site, in which the foremost priority is the protection of human health and the environment. The question of whether or not a proposed revitalization plan is compatible with EPA’s cleanup may be complex, but the LRAT will address the issue as comprehensively as possible. In some instances, a prospective purchaser’s revitalization plans may parallel EPA’s cleanup plans for the site. In these instances, EPA engages the prospective purchaser in a discussion about revitalization plans for the site and may consider the prospective purchaser’s desired future land use in the remedy selection process.

Prior to the first meeting, the interested party may provide EPA with development plans, engineering maps, and other project information. This helps ensure that the interested party’s revitalization plan is compatible with EPA’s cleanup plan. Resolving the compatibility issue early in the process and informing the interested party of the risks associated with purchasing contaminated property minimizes surprises and potential hurdles down the road. Many times, all parties realize after the first meeting that the revitalization plan, or the timing for implementing the revitalization plan, needs to be modified in order to be compatible with EPA’s cleanup plan for the site. The interested party can factor this information into his or her business decision. EPA may be in a position to be flexible with some aspects of the cleanup in order to accommodate specific redevelopment plans. For example, if an interested party needs a specific area for a parking lot, EPA can evaluate whether its plan to install monitoring wells in that proposed parking area could be modified to accommodate the redevelopment plans.

Precautions

The LRAT is careful not to give assurances or guarantees to interested parties or prospective purchasers. Also, the LRAT will alert the interested party that there is always some risk at any given site concerning assumptions of compatibility between the proposed revitalization and the cleanup. EPA does not determine the specific reuse of the contaminated property or favor one interested party or prospective purchaser over another. Land use determinations are primarily a local government issue. The discussions the LRAT has with interested parties and the assumptions made are based on known current conditions. EPA cannot guarantee compatibility of its cleanup with any specific use of the site. For example, it is possible that future development and/or operations may be disrupted if unknown or additional contamination is discovered that necessitates a change in the cleanup plan (remedy) for the site. EPA makes it clear that landowner liability protection under the bona fide prospective purchaser provision of CERCLA rests upon the prospective purchaser’s full cooperation with the cleanup, and that the bona fide prospective purchaser provision does not protect against exacerbation of conditions or a future release by the bona fide prospective purchaser. The interested party also understands that EPA attorneys are not offering legal advice and that the interested party will have to retain his or her own counsel for legal advice.

Contact Information

Parties interested in securing the services of the EPA Region 3 Land Revitalization Action Team can contact any of the EPA personnel listed below.

Christopher Thomas
Regional Land Revitalization Team Leader
1650 Arch Street (3HS51)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
(215) 814-5555
thomas.christopher@epa.gov

Thomas Cinti
Regional Lead Attorney for Revitalization
1650 Arch Street (3RC42)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
(215) 814-2634
cinti.thomas@epa.gov

Kenneth Rose
Regional SF Cost Recovery Expert
1650 Arch Street (3HS62)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
(215) 814-3147
rose.kenneth@epa.gov

Disclaimer: This memorandum is intended solely for the guidance of employees of EPA and it creates no substantive rights for any persons. It is not a regulation and does not impose legal obligations. EPA will apply the guidance only to the extent appropriate based on the facts.

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization


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