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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

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What's a Brownfield?

Brownfield cleanup in St. JohnsAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency, a brownfield is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant

In simple terms, a brownfield is property that is either contaminated or that people think might be contaminated. 

Common examples of brownfields include former gas stations, metal plating facilities, and dry cleaners. Brownfields can be as small as a corner lot or can cover hundreds of acres, and can exist almost anywhere - from commercial corridors to rural areas.  Many sites now considered brownfields once provided economic vitality and jobs to local communities. 

Where are the brownfields in Portland? 

Some brownfields are easy to identify. However, brownfields are often referred to as an invisible problem because contamination may be impossible to detect without formal environmental assessment. 

There are many brownfields in every city, including Portland.  Think about vacant properties you have seen along many of Portland's busy commercial corridors - many of these are brownfields.  Redevelopment of brownfields stimulates the economy while protecting green space and public health. 

What if I want to buy or sell a property that might be contaminated? 

If you own or are interested in purchasing a property that may have contamination from a previous use, the first step is an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA).  An ESA will tell you about the property's history and current conditions, giving you the information you need to make informed choices.  The Portland Brownfield Program can provide technical and financial assistance with your ESA. 

You can find more in-depth information on available assistance in Portland Brownfield Program Services