What is a Brownfields?
Brownfields sites are abandoned, idled or underused industrial and commercial properties where development, redevelopment or expansion is complicated by actual or suspected environmental contamination. By investigating and cleaning up brownfields sites, many of which are abandoned areas that may impose an environmental risk to the local community, development can take place with less concern about legal liabilities related to site contamination. This benefits the Three Affiliated Tribes by bringing jobs to the area, making abandoned property functional, and possibly preserving sites that have historic and cultural significance to the community.
The definition of a brownfields site is found in Public Law 107-118 (H.R. 2869) "Small business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act" signed into law January 11, 2002. For more information on the definition of a brownfields site and information on brownfields, please see Brownfields | US EPA.
A Brownfields Tribal Response Program is required by the EPA to have certain components. Listed below are the general components of our Tribal Response Program:
Timely Survey and Inventory
Establish a system to identify, prioritize, and survey brownfields sites on the Reservation
- Review databases and other sources of existing information to identify sites
- Update existing databases with newly assessed brownfields site information
Conduct assessments on potential brownfields sites by trained staff or by hiring a qualified contractor
- Estimate costs for cleanup for a site
- Develop a reuse/redevelopment plan for sites taking into consideration the contamination issues
Update annually (or more often if appropriate)
- Include site locations, responses, and future plans
PUBLIC RECORD REQUIREMENT
In order to be eligible for section 128(a) funding, states and tribes (including those with MOAs) must establish and maintain a public record system, described below, in order to receive funds. Specifically, under section 128(b)(1)(C)
Public Record Files, as of 2/14/2014:
Incorporate brownfields information into current public outreach activities
- Establish procedure for prior notice and opportunity for public comment as well as a mechanism by which an affected person may request a site assessment be conducted
Create a draft cleanup and verification plan and implement a review process
- Design a process by which cleanup plans and efforts can be certified and include procedures, documentation, and a step by step process
Oversight and Enforcement
Establish a follow-up inspection protocol to survey any new brownfields sites
- Research existing environmental oversight and enforcement authorities
- Develop administrative procedures to assure response actions are conducted in a lawful manner and protect human health and the environment.
Brownfields Sites Can Potentially Include the Following:
- Abandoned industrial buildings
- Old buildings/factories/gas stations
- Open/illegal dumping (particularly involving hazardous wastes like gas, oil, pesticides, paints, etc).
- Methamphetamine labs: Materials found at these sites are extremely hazardous; don't investigate yourself. If you suspect a meth lab in operation or discover a location you suspect might be a former meth lab, call the police immediately.
- Above-ground or underground fuel storage tanks that are abandoned or suspected to be leaking
What is Not a Brownfields Site:
A site the owner is liable for and that is being used as an open dump
- A site where a removal action by another organization or agency has or is occurring