How do I know if the property I own or am interested in buying/developing is a brownfield?
In simple terms, a property is considered a brownfield if contamination – or the possibility of contamination – is interfering with its reuse. If your property may be contaminated, you will have difficulty financing, developing, or selling it for its full value until you perform an assessment. Unknown contamination can also pose a health risk to you or your neighbors.
An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) will give you information about the history and current condition of your property so that you can make informed decisions and move forward with your plans. Most lenders, developers, and purchasers will ask for an ESA on any commercial or industrial site.
What is involved in Environmental Site Assessment?
The first step for your property is a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. For a Phase I ESA, a contractor will research the past and present uses of the site, review existing environmental studies, and conduct a preliminary site inspection to establish the likelihood of contamination. This investigation will determine whether or not further assessment is necessary.
If the Phase I ESA identifies Recognized Environmental Concerns, the report will recommend a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. This step involves soil and/or water sampling to identify the types and concentrations of contaminants and the appropriate cleanup.
A Phase II ESA is tailored to the specific conditions and intended future uses of the property. It will determine whether or not cleanup activities are necessary.
Isn’t this process very expensive?
Brownfield assessment and cleanup can be expensive - but without it, you may find it difficult or impossible to secure development financing, or to sell your property for its full value. The only way to find out if a site is clean - or how to get it clean - is to perform an ESA.
Right now, funding is available to help you move forward with site assessment and any cleanup that may be necessary, so that you can realize your vision for your property. Many of these funds are provided by grants, and will only be available for a limited time.
How can the Portland Brownfield Program assist me?
The Portland Brownfield Program provides technical and financial assistance to private businesses and landowners, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities. Financial assistance can include full funding of Phase I ESA, substantial funding of Phase II ESA, and low-interest loans for cleanup.
To learn more about the services we can provide for your property, contact the Portland Brownfield Program office at 503-823-7764, or download an Assessment Application here.
Why are brownfields a priority for Portland?
Brownfield revitalization protects human and environmental health, increases the tax base, improves the economy, accommodates regional economic growth, protects watersheds, provides jobs, improves community health and identity, and helps keep business in Portland. Take a look at some former Portland Brownfield Program Sites to see how the transformation takes place.