The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines "brownfields" as "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." Often, these sites are abandoned or underused properties that were once home to factories or industrial facilities that have since been closed down.
Though it can be a difficult number to pin down at times, the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) estimates that there are about 425,000 brownfields in the U.S. The agency also believes that this is equivalent to about 5 million acres of abandoned industrial sites.
Given the sheer amount of potentially contaminated land, it has fallen to federal, state and local officials to work with private stakeholders to redevelop these brownfields for future use.
Mississippi city seeks EPA grant to clear brownfield sites
One recent example is that of Moss Point, Mississippi, which last month held a public meeting about the use of a $400,000 grant from the EPA. The money, which was secured in the spring of 2013, will be used to clean up former industrial sites within city borders.
According to an article on Gulf Live, the grant will be split in two, with $200,000 going toward the treatment of hazardous substances and $200,000 going toward petroleum cleanup. A chemical plant and the former site of the International Paper co. will be among those areas assessed with this money.
"Through these grant resources local communities can continue to assess, clean up and redevelop properties to meet local needs for jobs, housing and recreation while protecting people's health and the local environment," Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response told the news source.
Prompt remediation necessary for safety, economic growth
As this blog has pointed out in the past, a number of remediation projects across the country have provided opportunities for business investment and growth in the area. For example, in Baltimore last year, a plan was put in place to remediate the site of a former General Motors facility and transform it into a major warehouse and distribution center. The new building is expected to employ thousands of local residents when it is completed later next year.
Brownfields redevelopment is often the key to revitalizing former industrial areas that have hit hard times in the wake of factory closings. Once contaminated land is cleaned and made fit for use again, it presents a business opportunity for companies looking to relocate to the area. In this way, these projects can greatly improve the quality of life for those who live and work there.
For these efforts to be successful, stakeholders need more than just a remediation company. They need to work with a full-cycle provider of environmental consulting and engineering solutions. This way, they will have full support throughout the redevelopment process, from initial site assessments through remediation work to post-project reporting.