Brookhaven, GA, March 14, 2016 – by Renee Turner, Staff Writer – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfield Program was started in 1995. In 2004, Georgia began the Brownfields Program, funded by grants from the EPA, to provide oversight for cleanup of hazardous properties known as “brownfields” in the State for residential and non-residential property.
A Brownfield property is defined by the EPA as “the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” There are an estimated over 450,000 Brownfield in the U.S. The EPA provides a number of grants to municipalities including assessments, planning, job, and cleanup grants.
Beth Blalock, Assistant Branch Chief, of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), Land Protection Branch told The Post, “Georgia receives funding from the EPA to help run the Brownfield Program. It is called CERCLA 128 (a) funding. The Environmental Protection Division (Part of the Department of Natural Resources) approves corrective action plans to address contamination on a parcel. The EPD also confirms that the contamination meets the applicable risk reduction standard.”
DeKalb County sites:
Throughout metro Atlanta there have been a number of high-profile properties that were declared Brownfields e.g. Atlantic Station, Porsche Facility, Ponce City Market, Doraville GM Plant Redevelopment (Assembly) and Peachtree Crossing in Chamblee is scheduled for completion in Summer of 2017.
Jeff DeHart of S.J. Collins Enterprises, the developer of the Peachtree Crossing project, told The Post, “We purchased the property after the cleanup was completed by the previous owner, Oxford Chemical Company. The development is a retail shopping center anchored by Whole Foods Market.”
Georgia EPD provides a Brownfield Summary Table (revised February 2016) which lists these properties under the Brownfield Public Record. The below table (embedded below or download here) has been sorted by The Post to reflect Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, and DeKalb County.
Table notation includes: HSI stands for Hazardous Site Inventory. According to Beth, “Georgia has a state hazardous site program (similar to the federal superfund, or CERCLA program). An HSI is a site listed on the inventory; [while] N-HSI is not listed. RRS (Risk Reduction Standard) “can be a residential standard or a non-residential standard. The standards are based on risk assessment, or exposure, to certain contamination and takes into account how the property may be used with respect to that exposure.”
Property owner’s responsibilities:
“The seller retains any responsibility to clean up groundwater contamination, if there is groundwater contamination on the site,” says Blalock. “The Brownfield Purchaser and future owner, must execute their approved corrective action plan and all other state and federal laws to maintain their limitation of liability. The developers purchasing the property did not cause the contamination; therefore, they voluntarily agree to clean up the property/contamination that they are not responsible for in exchange for a limitation of liability.”
Additionally, Blalock says, tax abatements equal to the amount spent on eligible corrective action costs may also be pursued.