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Brownfields

Programmatic Requirements for Brownfield Grants

Brownfield Grant recipients must comply with all applicable federal and state laws to ensure that the assessment and cleanup protect human health and the environment. Recipients also must comply with the program’s technical requirements, which may include, but are not limited to, requirements for Quality Assurance requirements, historic properties or threatened and endangered species, all appropriate inquiries, environmental cleanup responsibilities, sufficient progress, collection of post-grant information, and protections of nearby and sensitive populations. For additional information, please contact your Regional Brownfields Contact.

1. Quality Assurance (QA) Requirements

When environmental samples are collected as part of any brownfields cooperative agreement (e.g., assessment and site characterization, cleanup verification sampling, post-cleanup confirmation sampling), recipients shall submit to EPA for approval a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) prior to the collection of environmental samples as required by 2 CFR § 1500.11. The QAPP must document quality assurance practices sufficient to produce data adequate to meet project objectives and minimize data loss. Compliance with the Quality Assurance requirements is an eligible use of funds for Brownfield Grants.

2. Historic Properties or Threatened and Endangered Species

If historic properties or threatened or endangered (T&E) species may be impacted by the assessment or cleanup of a site, the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) or the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may apply, respectively. Recipients are required to consult with EPA prior to conducting any on-site activity (such as invasive sampling or cleanup) that may affect historic properties or T&E species to ensure that the requirements of NHPA § 106 and ESA § 7(a)(2) are met. Recipients should plan for these consultation requirements.

3. All Appropriate Inquiries

All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) must be conducted in compliance with 40 CFR Part 312 and must include the information below, among other things. All AAI reports submitted to EPA Project Officers as deliverables under the assessment cooperative agreement must be accompanied by a completed “Reporting Requirements Checklist” that EPA’s Project Officer will provide to the recipient. The checklist also is available to recipients on the EPA website at www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-all-appropriate-inquiries. All AAI written reports must include the information below.

  1. An opinion as to whether the inquiry has identified conditions indicative of releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, and as applicable, pollutants and contaminants, petroleum or petroleum products, or controlled substances, on, at, in, or to the subject property.
  2. An identification of data gaps (as defined in 40 CFR § 312.10), if any, in the information collected for the inquiry. data gaps include missing or unattainable information that affects the ability of the environmental professional to identify conditions indicative of releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, and as applicable, pollutants and contaminants, petroleum or petroleum products, or controlled substances, on, at, in, or to the subject property. The documentation of data gaps must include information regarding the significance of these data gaps.
  3. Qualifications and signature of the environmental professional(s). The environmental professional must place the statements below in the document and sign the document.
    • ‘‘(I, We) declare that, to the best of (my, our) professional knowledge and belief, (I, we) meet the definition of Environmental Professional as defined in § 312.10 of this part.’’
    • ‘‘(I, We) have the specific qualifications based on education, training, and experience to assess a property of the nature, history, and setting of the subject property. (I, We) have developed and performed the all appropriate inquiries in conformance with the standards and practices set forth in 40 CFR Part 312.’’
      Note: Please use either “I” or “We.”
    • In compliance with § 312.31(b), the environmental professional must include in the final report an opinion regarding additional appropriate investigation, if the environmental professional has such an opinion.

EPA may review checklists and AAI final reports for compliance with the AAI regulation’s documentation requirements at 40 CFR Part 312 (or comparable requirements for those using ASTM Standard 1527-13). Any deficiencies identified during an EPA review of these documents must be corrected by the recipient within 30 days of notification. Failure to correct any identified deficiencies may result in EPA disallowing the costs for the entire AAI report as authorized by 2 CFR § 200.338(b). If a recipient willfully fails to correct the deficiencies, EPA may consider other available remedies under 2 CFR §§ 200.338 through 2 CFR 200.342 and 2 CFR Part 180.

4. Environmental Cleanup Responsibilities

Recipients must complete the following mandatory activities in connection with all cleanups conducted with brownfields funding. These activities are all eligible costs.

EPA anticipates that the majority of the cleanups will be performed through state voluntary cleanup programs (VCPs). As such, the state programs may call the documents listed below by different names. It is EPA’s intent that documents generated to meet the state’s VCP requirements can serve to meet the mandatory requirements listed below provided they cover the same elements and include the necessary information.

  1. Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA)

    Prepare an analysis of brownfield cleanup alternatives, considering site characteristics, surrounding environment, land use restrictions, potential future uses, and cleanup goals for each site cleaned up with EPA funding. The ABCA must be signed by an authorized representative of the grant recipient and the ABCA must include:
    1. information about the site and contamination issues (e.g., exposure pathways, identification of contaminant sources, etc.), cleanup standards, applicable laws, alternatives considered, and the proposed cleanup;
    2. effectiveness, the ability to implement, and the cost of the proposed cleanup;
    3. evaluate the resilience of the remedial options to address potential adverse impacts caused by sea level rise, increased frequency and intensity of flooding and/or extreme weather events, etc.;
    4. an analysis of reasonable alternatives, including the alternative of taking no action. For cleanup of brownfield petroleum-only sites, an analysis of cleanup alternatives must include considering a range of proven cleanup methods including identification of contaminant sources, exposure pathways, and an evaluation of corrective measures. The cleanup method chosen must be based on this analysis; and
    5. the recipient may consider the degree to which the alternatives reduce greenhouse gas discharges, reduce energy use or employ alternative energy sources, reduce volume of wastewater generated/disposed, reduce volume of materials taken to landfills, and recycle and re-use materials generated during the cleanup process to the maximum extent practicable.
       
  2. Community Relations and Public Involvement in Cleanup Activities

    Recipients must prepare a community relations plan for each site that describes how the recipient plans to satisfy the public involvement requirements below. The plan must be submitted to EPA before providing notice to the general community regarding the ABCA(s). At a minimum, public involvement for cleanup activities requires:
    1. notice of the ABCA’s or its equivalent’s availability to the general community and the opportunity for the public to provide comments (written or oral) on the ABCA;
    2. preparation of written responses to significant and appropriate comments, and documentation of any changes to the cleanup plan; and
    3. preparation of an Administrative Record and notification to the public of its availability for inspection at a location convenient to the target population and general public. The Administrative Record must contain the documents that form the basis for the selection and implementation of a cleanup plan. Documents in the Administrative Record shall include the ABCA, site investigation reports, the cleanup plan, cleanup standards used, responses to public comments, and verification that shows that cleanup is complete.
       
  3. Implementation and Completion of Cleanup Activities

    Recipients shall ensure the adequacy of each cleanup in protecting human health and the environment as it is implemented. Regarding occupational safety and health, brownfields cleanups must comply with either all applicable General Industry standards (29 CFR Part 1910) or all applicable Construction standards (29 CFR Part 1926), depending on work operations at the site. In addition, if a site is determined to be a “hazardous waste site,” that site must comply with the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard 29 CFR § 1910.120.

    In the event of an incomplete cleanup, the recipient shall ensure that the site is secure and notify the appropriate state agency and EPA to ensure an orderly transition should additional activities become necessary.

    Recipients shall ensure that the successful completion of the cleanup is properly documented. This must be done through a final report or letter from a qualified environmental professional, or other documentation provided by a state or tribe that shows the cleanup is complete. This documentation needs to be included as part of the Administrative Record.

5. Sufficient Progress

Assessment Grants
EPA will evaluate whether the recipient has made sufficient progress 18 months from the date of award. For purposes of Assessment Grants, the recipient demonstrates “sufficient progress in implementing a cooperative agreement” when 35% of funds have been drawn down and obligated to eligible activities; for Assessment Coalition Grants “sufficient progress” is demonstrated when:

  • a solicitation for services has been released;
  • sites are prioritized or an inventory has been initiated, if necessary;
  • community involvement activities have been initiated; and
  • a Memorandum of Agreement is in place (if required).

If EPA determines that the recipient has not made sufficient progress, the recipient must implement a corrective action plan approved by EPA. Failure to comply with the sufficient progress requirements may result in termination of the grant under 2 CFR § 200.339 or other enforcement actions as authorized by 2 CFR § 200.338.

Cleanup Grants
EPA will evaluate whether the recipient has made sufficient progress 18 months from the date of award. For purposes of the Cleanup Grants, the recipient demonstrates “sufficient progress in implementing a cooperative agreement” when:

  • an appropriate remediation plan is in place;
  • institutional control development, if necessary, has commenced,
  • initial community involvement activities have taken place;
  • relevant state or tribal pre-cleanup requirements are being addressed; and
  • a solicitation for remediation services has been issued.

If EPA determines that the recipient has not made sufficient progress, the recipient must implement a corrective action plan approved by EPA. Failure to comply with the sufficient progress requirements may result in termination of the grant under 2 CFR § 200.339 or other enforcement actions as authorized by 2 CFR § 200.338.

RLF Grants
EPA will evaluate whether the recipient has made sufficient progress 2 years from the date of award. For purposes of the RLF Grants, the recipient demonstrates “sufficient progress in implementing a cooperative agreement” when the recipient has made loan(s) and/or subgrant(s). Alternatively, sufficient progress may also be demonstrated by a combination of all the following: hiring of all key personnel, the establishment and advertisement of the RLF, and the development of one or more potential loans/subgrants. If EPA determines that the recipient has not made sufficient progress, the recipient must implement a corrective action plan approved by EPA. Failure to comply with the sufficient progress requirements may result in termination of the grant under 2 CFR § 200.339 or other enforcement actions as authorized by 2 CFR § 200.338.

Multipurpose Grants
EPA will evaluate whether the recipient has made sufficient progress 2 years from the date of award. For purposes of the Multipurpose Grants, the recipient demonstrates “sufficient progress in implementing a cooperative agreement” when:

  • 35% of funds have been drawn down and disbursed for eligible activities;
  • sites are prioritized or an inventory has been initiated (if necessary);
  • initial community involvement activities have taken place;
  • relevant state or tribal pre-cleanup requirements are being addressed;
  • an appropriate remediation plan is in place for at least one eligible brownfield site;
  • institutional control development (if necessary) has commenced;
  • an appropriate remediation plan is in place for at least one eligible brownfield site;
  • institutional control development (if necessary) has commenced; and/or
  • a solicitation for services has been issued.

If EPA determines that the recipient has not made sufficient progress, the recipient must implement a corrective action plan approved by EPA. Failure to comply with the sufficient progress requirement may result in termination of the grant under 2 CFR § 200.339 or other enforcement actions as authorized by 2 CFR § 200.338.

6. Collection of Post-Grant Information

Under the Government Performance and Results Act, EPA reports on the many benefits of brownfields funding. One such measure provides information on additional resources leveraged as a result of using Brownfield grant funds. These leveraged, non-EPA funds may include additional cleanup funds or redevelopment funding from other federal agencies, state, tribal, and local governments, or private organizations. As many of these activities occur beyond the grant period of performance, please note that EPA may contact you well after the period of performance has ended to request this information.

7. Protection of Nearby and Sensitive Populations

Recipients are required to protect all nearby populations, including sensitive populations in the target community, from contaminants during assessment and cleanup work conducted on brownfield site(s) funded by the cooperative agreement. Activities include implementing procedures necessary to mitigate any potential exposure from the contamination.