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Climate Change Adaptation Resource Center (ARC-X)

Barre City, Vermont Accounts for Climate Change within a Brownfield Redevelopment Plan

Central Vermont Community Land Trust Remediated brownfields campusGraphic representation of proposed Central Vermont Community Land Trust Remediated brownfields campus.The Summer Street Housing Limited Partnership, a partnership between the Central Vermont Community Land Trust (CVCLT) and the non-profit Housing Vermont, sought to redevelop a brownfieldsHelpbrownfieldsWith certain legal exclusions and additions, the term "brownfield site" means real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. site in Barre, Vermont. The site was the former location of an automobile servicing station and a paint shop, and previously contained several underground petroleum storage tanks.

To guide the redevelopment efforts, the partnership conducted an Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA). As part of its analysis – and to build in climate resiliency and adaptation – the partnership used available regional climate projections to anticipate current and future risks; namely flooding and extreme temperatures. The partnership then considered the vulnerability of potential cleanup remedies to the identified climate risks.

By including current and future climate threats in its analysis, the partnership was better able to understand potential vulnerabilities associated with its planned brownfields investment. For example, the increasing frequency and intensity of storms projected for the region may lead to flooding that could compromise potential remediation fixes such as engineered caps. By its explicit consideration of projected climate threats, now and in the future, the Partnership's final remedy selection is designed to safeguard public health even as the climate changes.

How Did They Do It?

Applicable EPA Tools

Identified climate risks

  • Reviewed NOAA Technical Report Regional Climate Trends and Scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment: Climate of the Northeast United States to identify anticipated regional climate risks.
  • After identifying anticipated climate risk, the Partnership used local knowledge of the site to determine primary climate vulnerabilities. Specifically, more frequent and intense storms may lead to flooding which could result in potential contamination releases beyond the site. More extreme temperatures could also exacerbate the risk of soil gas exchange and maintaining healthy indoor air quality.

Review the National Climate Assessment regional projection to better identify projected climate risks.

National Climate Assessment

Considered climate risk and vulnerability when evaluating cleanup alternatives

  • The site's Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives stated, "Climate change concerns for site-wide soil gas contamination include: drought conditions could lower the surficial groundwater table, leading to a larger vadose zone for soil gas migration [for more on Vadose Zone Leaching see EPA VLEACH]; and the loss of a winter frost layer could alter soil gas contaminant migration pathways to indoor air in unknown ways."
  • While several cleanup options were identified, several were rejected because they would not have reduced climate vulnerability. (E.g capping the contaminated soil was not selected because while it may have reduced current exposure, it would have been vulnerable to future flooding events anticipated as a result of projected increased precipitation).

Use the EPA's Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternative checklist to help consider anticipated climate changes in your Corrective Action Plan.

EPA's Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternative checklist

Selected a Brownfield Cleanup Alternative that they identified as having Adaptive Benefits

  • A cleanup that included a soil management plan (SMP) and targeted excavation was adopted. Excavation was selected due to the level of uncertainty on how climate change could "alter soil gas contaminant migration to indoor air in unknown ways" (as identified in the Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives).
  • For additional safety, a "sub-slab depressurization (SSD) system and vapor barrier to mitigate exposure to indoor air via the vapor intrusion pathway in the future buildings" was included in the Corrective Action Public Notice in order to attain "land use restrictions (LURs) to protect any potential future construction/utility workers or new property owners from exposure to site contaminants.

Use EPA Brownfield Revitalization in Climate-Vulnerable Areas to help inform selection of appropriate adaptation option.

EPA Brownfield Revitalization in Climate-Vulnerable Areas

Similar Cases and More Information

The Summer Street Housing Limited Partnership anticipated the effects of climate change to their brownfield redevelopment efforts. To see how waste sites (Superfund or RCRA sites) have prepared for climate changes see American Cyanamid Superfund case.


References

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