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New York's brownfield cleanup program marks successful year

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Wed, Jan 27th 2021 10:55 am

State cleanup program continues to promote comprehensive cleanups, economic redevelopment in communities

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced another year of successful environmental cleanups as part of the state’s brownfield cleanup program (BCP). In 2020 alone, a total of 48 certificates of completion were issued and 94 new sites were accepted to the BCP, helping to protect public health and the environment across New York while, the DEC said, bolstering local economies through redevelopment.

"New York’s brownfield cleanup program is a powerful tool to advance the restoration and redevelopment of abandoned and underutilized properties in communities across the state and return them to productive use, benefitting local economies and improving quality of life,” Seggos said. “Despite challenges due to COVID-19, 2020 was another successful year for the brownfield cleanup program and I commend DEC’s dedicated professionals working tirelessly to make this program a success.”

A press release said, “DEC provides strict oversight of New York's BCP, which encourages the voluntary cleanup of contaminated properties known as ‘brownfields’ so these sites can be redeveloped. A brownfield site is any real property where a contaminant is present at levels exceeding health-based or environmental standards or cleanup objectives that are applicable based on the anticipated use of the property. The goal of the BCP is to encourage private-sector cleanups of brownfields and to promote redevelopment of these sites as a means to revitalize communities. Site uses may include recreation, housing, business or other uses. The BCP is an alternative to greenfield development and can help remove some of the barriers to, and provide tax incentives for, the redevelopment of urban brownfields.”

Since its inception, 1,062 applications to the BCP have been approved, and to date, 501 formerly contaminated properties statewide have been issued certificates of completion. DEC issues COC based on the agency’s review of the final engineering report, which certifies the remediation work performed by the applicants meets cleanup requirements for the protection of public health and the environment. The COC triggers the availability of tax credits for eligible parties and also allows the certificateholder to redevelop the site, subject to certain restrictions, if applicable.

A number of the completed BCP projects are located in the New York Department of State’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas. The BOA program provides communities with guidance, expertise and financial assistance to help develop revitalization strategies for areas affected by brownfields or economic distress. The press release noted, “BCP and BOA programs complement one another and, along with DEC partners including the State Department of Health and State Office of Homes and Community Renewal, help transform former industrial sites into community assets that support businesses, jobs and revenues for local economies and provide new housing and public amenities.”

“New York’s brownfield cleanup program plays an important role in revitalizing communities around the state,” Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “The Department of State is proud to work in partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservation and communities throughout New York in designating close to 60 Brownfield Opportunity Areas around the state to transform brownfields from liabilities to community assets that reinvigorate the local economy.”

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “By cleaning up contaminated sites for redevelopment, we can build affordable housing, further economic growth and improve public health in communities where revitalization efforts are needed most. Congratulations to DEC for another successful year carrying out New York’s brownfield cleanup program that is helping to restore our environment and achieve a more sustainable future for us all.”

For more information on the BCP, visit DEC’s BCP webpage. A list of sites that have been completed and issued a COC in New York can be found at the NYS Open Data Website.

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