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National EPA Initiative Goes Beyond Cleanup and Focuses on Returning Sites Back to Productive Reuse for Communities

Release Date: 04/22/2003
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Contact: Dave Ryan, 202-564-7827
(04/22/03) On Earth Day 2003 in Chicago, EPA announced a comprehensive new initiative to require the early consideration of land reuse in all cleanup decisions within the Agency’s programs known as Superfund, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Underground Storage Tanks, and Brownfields. The initiative called the Land Revitalization Agenda, outlines over 60 specific ways to help integrate land reuse into EPA’s cleanup programs. Under the agenda, EPA will leverage grant resources across multiple federal cleanup programs to facilitate cleanup and reuse. In addition, EPA will test the use of written technical determinations stating that cleaned-up properties are ready for reuse.

“This is the Earth Day message for the new millennium: cleanup alone is not enough,” said Marianne Lamont Horinko, EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Cleanup is the first step, and the most important, but we must make these sites available to the community, to provide jobs, needed tax revenues and recreational benefits that were not there before. Under this new initiative, revitalization and reuse will be a formal part of our planning at every single site we clean up under every single program we manage– it’s not discretionary, and it’s not a pilot program.” Horinko unveiled the Land Revitalization Agenda today to a group of business leaders at the Union League Club in Chicago. Two main goals of the agenda are to clean up our nation’s contaminated land resources so that communities are able to safely return them to productive use and to ensure that cleanups protect public health, welfare, and the environment and that cleanups are consistent with future land use.

Throughout the country, many examples demonstrate the benefits of redevelopment. In Chicago, an Underground Storage Tank Pilot grant helped a redeveloper turn a former abandoned gas station and auto repair shop into low-income housing. In Philadelphia, the Publicker Superfund site was cleaned up and removed from Superfund’s National Priorities List, the tax revenue from the site went up by 40 percent and the market value for the area around the site increased by more than $47 million. In Clearwater, Fla., as a result of a Brownfields Pilot grant, a 14-acre site of a former auto service center that was contaminated with underground oil, diesel, and gasoline storage tanks is now home to Information Management Resources Global Center Headquarters. This project has resulted in more than $51 million in capital investment and is the largest business deal in the city’s history. Redevelopment plans call for six new buildings with a total of 310,000 square feet of office space. To date, two buildings have opened, employing more than 500 employees. In the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, Md., a 27-acre peninsula was successfully cleaned up under RCRA’s Corrective Action Program. Plans for Harbor Point redevelopment call for 1.8 million square feet of mixed-used space, representing up to $400 million in new investment and creating as many as 5,000 jobs.

In January 2002, President Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which authorizes up to $250 million per year for Brownfields grants, including up to $50 million for the assessment and cleanup of low-risk petroleum contaminated sites. Since its inception in 1995, the Brownfields Program has awarded over 500 grants to assess Brownfields sites and to make loans to conduct cleanups. EPA announced the first Underground Storage Tank pilot grants in November 2000 and has since awarded 50 grants. As a result of the RCRA Corrective Action Program, EPA and the states now have brought hundreds of RCRA facilities under control. Nearly 40 percent of these sites have either completed or made significant progress in their cleanups.

To learn more about the Land Revitalization Agenda, go to: