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Land Revitalization Summer '06 Newsletter – Hazardous waste sites: land reuse gains momentum

Why is Land Revitalization Important?

Land is a finite resource that plays an important role in the health and vitality of America's communities. EPA is committed to supporting land revitalization as an outcome of the assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites because:

Source:"Measuring Revitalization of Contaminated Priorities in America's Communities: Past Accomplishments and Future Opportunities",
OSWER draft report

Ninety-three percent of the land at some of the most severely contaminated hazardous waste sites in the mid-Atlantic region is in productive use. More than half of the land at former Superfund sites has a new life as parks, wildlife areas, or recreation areas. Other former contaminated industrial sites where federal cleanups were required are new industrial sites, apartment houses, office buildings, and retail stores.

When EPA started cleaning up hazardous waste sites twenty years ago, citizens feared harmful health impacts and reduced real estate values. Developers shied away from land at severely contaminated waste sites. But communities want these properties back, and now, even early on in the environmental assessment phase, communities and developers are planning new uses.

"EPA and the states have been successful in working with communities and the private sector to clean up hazardous waste sites and transform them into community assets," said Donald S. Welsh, EPA mid-Atlantic regional administrator."EPA's cleanup programs are focusing more effort on facilitating reuse because a plan for reuse can accelerate the cleanup, provide economic benefits and protective long-term stewardship."

A new regional report shows how land is now being used at 511 hazardous waste sites being addressed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in the mid-Atlantic region. The region is comprised of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Information was collected on 174 Superfund national priority list sites, 280 RCRA corrective action facilities, and 57 federal facilities in the mid-Atlantic region. These 511 properties cover 230,494 acres, a land area equivalent to 10 Manhattan Islands.

Region 3 Hazardous Waste Cleanup Site Land Use and Reuse Assessment classifies land at the cleanup sites as: in continued use, reuse, planned reuse or no current use/vacant. The report looks at what kinds of reuse are occurring on the sites. The full report can be found at Brownfields and Land Revitalization Homepage . Specific cleanup successes are described on EPA's web site at Brownfields Success page.

A pie chart (PDF) (1p, 21k, about pdf) of Region 3 hazardous waste cleanup sites showing current land use.

A pie chart (PDF) (1p, 16k, about pdf) of Region 3 RCRA sites showing types of use and reuse.

Key Findings:

Formerly Contaminated Land Can and Is Being Reused

Advantages of Reuse

Opportunities for Reuse

The report does not contain site-specific information about areas for reuse. The decision as to whether and how vacant properties will be reused is up to the local community and individual property owners.

EPA and its state partners can help property owners and communities revitalize former cleanup sites by providing information to interested users, coordinating with other regulatory programs, incorporating reuse plans into cleanup designs, helping to resolve liability concerns, and expediting cleanup to support reuse.

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

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