Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Brownfield?
A Brownfield is an abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial site where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Brownfield sites are not just urban issues, but can be located in suburban or rural areas as well.

Why is development of a Brownfield difficult?
Obtaining financing for purchase or redevelopment of a Brownfield is often the initial hurdle. Banks or other lenders are often concerned that the Brownfield could become a liability to their operations. The cost of addressing environmental challenges is also a barrier to redevelopment. Environmental testing
and cleanup can be costly and time-consuming.

What is a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)?
A Phase I, or Phase I ESA, is a report which identifies potential or existing environmental contamination. It addresses not only the structures on a piece of property but also the soil and groundwater under a property. It includes a review of both current and historic operations as well as environmental issues.

What is Remediation?
Remediation refers to actions taken to clean up environmental contamination. These actions may be conducted to address issues in soil and groundwater or on physical structures on the surface. Some examples include removal of buried fuel storage tanks or contaminated soil, or abatement and removal of asbestos or lead-based paint from a building.

What is Redevelopment?
Redevelopment is an action where existing property and its structures are repurposed by either their reuse or demolition and construction of new facilities. Redevelopment can happen by initiatives of the private sector, public sector, or partnerships between the two.

What is the process for state-funded environmental remediation?

Step One: A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) will provide a liability release and due diligence for a new owner. It establishes the chain of ownership and prior land use.
Step Two: If it is determined that the possibility of contamination exists from a previous use, a Phase II ESA is recommended to determine if contamination is actually present. A Phase II ESA includes sampling and laboratory analyses. If no contamination is found, the property is ready for reuse.
Step Three: If contamination is found, additional assessments or engineering controls (work plan and cost estimate) should be implemented per state regulations/guidelines.
Step Four: The EPA offers clean-up funding through a competitive grant process, and most of the Region 6 states offer assistance through their Voluntary Clean- Up Program. Once the property is cleaned up, it is ready for redevelopment.

How long do these four steps take?
The environmental assessment process is dependent upon the complexity and size of the property and contamination found. Generally, the timetable can be expected to be:

Step 1: Phase I-60-90 days
Step 2: Phase II-120-180 days
Step 3: Phase III-90-120 days
Step 4: Highly Variable