City and State Agree on Local Brownfield Cleanup Strategy

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis and Mayor Bloomberg discussing an environmental issue earlier this year. Photo credit: Spencer T Tucker, via www.nyc.gov

                                        
Earlier today, Mayor Bloomberg and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding the City’s new Local Brownfield Cleanup Program (LBCP).  Under the MOA, the City and DEC have agreed to work together to “promote and facilitate the cleanup and appropriate reuse of contaminated properties.”  The LBCP allows parties that want to redevelop contaminated property in New York City to clean up the property under the jurisdiction of the City’s Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) and receive liability releases from the City once cleanup is complete . OER will consider accepting sites into the LBCP  that have been determined by DEC to be ineligible for the State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, which has stringent eligibility criteria.  The LBCP also provides grants for investigation and cleanup of sites that are enrolled in the program, with priority given to certain types of projects, including community redevelopment projects and affordable housing projects.
                                        
The MOA is a significant step in the implementation of the LBCP, because DEC generally maintains jurisdiction over cleanup of contaminated property throughout the State including, of course, New York City.  Under the MOA, DEC will allow OER – a City agency – to assume responsibility for overseeing the cleanup of certain sites that OER accepts into the LBCP, even if DEC is already involved with those sites.  This will probably happen most frequently with petroleum spill sites.  This initiative will hopefully accelerate the pace of the cleanup of spill sites and the closure of spill files, (DEC would still have to be satisfied with the cleanup, even if it is overseen by OER).  The MOA also provides that DEC will generally not take any action with respect to a property that is going through or has completed cleanup under the LBCP, although of course DEC reserves all its rights.  For some time, there has been a real need for a government program that would facilitate cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated property that does not meet the criteria for the State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.  Hopefully, the LBCP can be that kind of program for New York City and perhaps serve as a bellwether for other municipalities in the State.
                                             
More information on the LBCP, including the text of the MOA, is available at OER’s website: www.nyc.gov/html/oer