Land Revitalization Summer '06 Newsletter – Energizing Reuse at Vacant Superfund Sites
EPA has selected the Strasburg Landfill in Chester County, Pa. as a 2006 demonstration project for its "Return to Use Initiative." Strasburg Landfill is one of 19 sites selected nationwide. By working with local government and interested parties EPA hopes to shift this cleaned up landfill from vacant to reused.
The site is a portion of land which includes a 24-acre landfill located within a 302-acre tract of land. The landfill was reconfigured to resemble a large mound with gentle slopes. Land use in the area is primarily suburban residential with some agricultural areas. The Brandywine Creek and Briar Run form the southern and western boundaries of the site.
Several entities have approached EPA expressing interest in using the vacant portions of the Strasburg landfill for a variety of uses. At this point, EPA has been meeting with potential users, providing information and feedback on their request and discussing any barriers for reusing the site.
Like most of the 18 other sites, Strasburg is a vacant, cleaned-up Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) site. These cleanups were completed prior to EPA's emphasis on ensuring that cleanups consider the anticipated future use of the site. Most of these sites are vacant because of barriers to reuse. The Return to Use Initiative was launched in 2004 to tackle obstacles to reuse. Some of the barriers are physical and perceptions can be changed by modifying fences or eliminating signs and barbed wire. Other barriers, such as liability issues, or local concerns about environmental conditions at the sites, can take more time. By working with state and community partners, EPA can provide information and suggest ways to reuse the site without interfering with the clean-up remedy.
The Strasburg fact sheet contains additional information about the site.
EPA recently completed a land use review of the six states of the mid-Atlantic region that shows progress in reusing cleaned-up sites. Findings from the review show that of 174 Superfund NPL sites in the mid-Atlantic region:
- 65 percent of total acres associated with Superfund sites are in use now or have a planned reuse.
- 58 Superfund sites are vacant or have no current use and 43 sites are partially vacant (35 percent of the total acres). Approximately one third of the acres at these vacant Superfund sites are not recommended for reuse or have limitations on reuse to protect the remedy.
Returning sites to beneficial use allows local communities to reclaim lost land. It can also increase property values, expand the tax base and protect open space.
The other 18 new demonstration projects added in 2006 to the "Return to Use Initiative" are in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.