FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Aren’t brownfields the site of heavy industry and large manufacturing plants?
While there are brownfield sites of substantial size (the locations of Denver’s Pepsi Center and the Pueblo Convention Center, for example) many of Colorado’s affected sites are smaller scale and located in commercial and industrial districts.
Why should my community be concerned?
A property impaired by real or perceived hazardous waste may be difficult to put to a higher and better use, can reduce the value of neighboring properties, may hinder community and economic development efforts and impact drinking water quality.
How is a site designated as a brownfield?
Generally speaking, there is no formal “designation process” for brownfields, nor are there criteria that have to be met. A brownfield site may be privately or publicly held and doesn’t need a designation in order to be impaired. It is simply any property where reuse, expansion or redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived contamination.
What is the difference between a brownfield and a Superfund site?
A Superfund site is one that has been identified and formally designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as posing an imminent and substantial threat to the public health and environment. These sites are placed on the EPA’s National Priority List (NPL) for cleanup under the Superfund program. Brownfield sites may or may not have contamination present, and health threats may exist. However, the vast majority of brownfield sites will never qualify for the NPL. Examples of NPL sites in Colorado include the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the Summitville Mine site.
Is the property going to be marketable?
The marketability of any particular site after environmental closure will depend on that site’s viability for reuse. A major brownfields objective is to remove the environmental stigma so market forces will not be impeded.
What will it cost to clean up?
The overall cost of any project is affected by many variables, such as the size of the site, the volume of wastes, the concentrations of contaminants, the future use of the site, and the cleanup methods selected. Ongoing monitoring and reporting may be necessary on a site-by-site basis and will depend on the remedy implemented at a site. However, an approved cleanup plan can help identify and quantify costs for a public or private entity’s decision-making process. In many instances, redevelopment can proceed simultaneously with implementation of the cleanup plan, thereby enabling cash flow.
What about the liability concerns?
Liability issues can arise from state and federal environmental laws or from private parties. However, liability relief can be provided by the state VCUP and federal “all appropriate inquiry” guidelines. The likelihood of a successful lawsuit arising after completion of a state-approved cleanup is remote. There are also a number of private environmental insurance products currently available to address liability concerns.
How can a community proactively facilitate brownfields revitalization?
Proactive facilitation can involve providing outreach/education for businesses and property owners, identifying redevelopment sites, establishing a funding program (or identifying funding resources) and possibly taking interim or ultimate ownership of a property. Local efforts may specifically target environmental issues such as funding environmental site work, or may generally enhance project feasibility through development incentives or creative financing. Community leaders can identify and support the efforts of local brownfield “champions.” Facilitating site reuse can create jobs, increase public revenues, and enhance livability.