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DEC marks 'successful year' for state's brownfield cleanup program


Thu, Mar 9th 2023 07:50 pm

DEC: Cleanup program advances comprehensive cleanups, affordable housing and economic redevelopment efforts statewide

√ 53 cleanups completed in 2022, including more than 20 new affordable housing projects; 72 new sites accepted into brownfield cleanup program

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced another year of “successful environmental cleanups” in the state's brownfield cleanup program (BCP). In 2022, DEC issued 53 certificates of completion to sites in the program, and accepted 72 new sites into the BCP, “helping protect public health and the environment across New York state while revitalizing neighborhoods and strengthening local economies,” DEC stated.

"New York's brownfield cleanup program is a powerful tool for transforming former industrial properties to support local revitalization efforts and improve quality of life for New York families across the state," Seggos said. "Cleaning up these former brownfields helps protect public health and the environment while creating new economic development opportunities. Under Gov. Hochul’s leadership, this valuable program has been extended and improved, ensuring that necessary work to address environmental contamination and support the construction of affordable housing can continue, especially in underserved communities disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution.”

DEC oversees New York state's BCP, which encourages the voluntary clean-up of contaminated properties known as "brownfields," so these sites can be redeveloped and returned to productive use.

The department explained, “A brownfield site is any real property where a contaminant is present at levels exceeding health-based or environmental standards or applicable clean-up objectives based on the anticipated future use of the property. The program encourages private-sector remediation of brownfields and promotes redevelopment of these sites to revitalize communities. Site uses include recreation, housing, business or other uses. The BCP is a sustainable alternative to greenfield development, helping to preserve existing undeveloped land while removing barriers to, and provide tax incentives for, the redevelopment of urban brownfields.”

Since its inception in 2003, DEC has approved 1,232 applications to the BCP and issued certificates of completion (COCs) to 595 formerly contaminated properties statewide.

DEC “issues COCs based on its expert review of the final engineering report, which certifies the remediation work performed by the applicant meets cleanup requirements for the protection of public health and the environment. The COC triggers the availability of tax credits for eligible parties and allows the certificate holder to redevelop the site. The average time to complete a BCP – from application approval to issuance of a COC – in 2022 was 3.74 years, down from the average of 4.34 since the program’s start in 2003.

“More than 20 of the 53 completed cleanups in 2022 will result in the creation of thousands of affordable housing units across New York City and New York state.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Thanks to the New York brownfield cleanup program, 20 former industrial properties across the state have been transformed into modern, affordable housing developments for New Yorkers over the last year alone. In addition to creating housing, this important program benefits our environment, yields new public services and amenities, and bolsters local economies by replacing eyesores or vacant parcels with beautiful new developments. Congratulations to the DEC for another successful year, and we look forward to continuing this fruitful partnership in 2023 and beyond."

Some completed BCP projects are located in the New York Department of State's brownfield opportunity areas (BOA). DEC stated, “The 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 revenue for local economies, as well as new housing opportunities and public amenities.”

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “The Department of State works closely with DEC to transform brownfield sites from liabilities into community assets, particularly in New York’s underserved communities that are disproportionately burdened by the legacy of industrial pollution. The Department of State's brownfield opportunity area program has successfully paved the way for the revitalization of communities throughout New York state by generating new businesses, jobs, housing, infrastructure and public amenities through effective planning, technical assistance and pre-development grants.”

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