Frequent Questions Regarding Petroleum Brownfields
- What is a petroleum brownfield?
Brownfield is a term applied to a property where its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance. There are several kinds of brownfields depending on the kind and/or source of the contamination. A petroleum brownfield is a type of brownfield where the contaminant is petroleum. Petroleum can contaminate ground water, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans. Petroleum brownfields, such as old abandoned gas stations, can be and are being cleaned up and reused.
- How do petroleum brownfields differ from other brownfields?
A petroleum brownfield is a type of brownfield where the contaminant is petroleum. Petroleum can contaminate ground water, which is the source of drinking water for many communities. The petroleum can come from many sources, such as underground storage tanks at gas stations, bulk storage facilities, leaking pipelines, and aboveground storage tanks.
- How many petroleum brownfields are there in the U.S.?
No one knows for certain. Of the estimated 450,000 brownfields sites in the U.S., some reports state that perhaps half have petroleum contamination.
- Where does the petroleum contamination come from?
There are many potential sources of petroleum contamination, including underground storage tanks at gas stations, bulk storage facilities, leaking pipelines, and aboveground storage tanks.
- Where are these brownfields? Do I have a petroleum brownfield (or more than one) in my community?
It is possible you do. To find out, contact your state regulatory authority. Many of these programs have information on brownfield sites on their Web pages.
- If I want to inquire about or find the status of a petroleum brownfield near me, who do I contact?
Your state regulatory authority.
- What can be done about a petroleum brownfield?
Petroleum brownfields are a potential threat to the soil and ground water of a community. Any contamination at the site must be assessed and cleaned up to state requirements. Once a site is cleaned up, the community, a private investor, or the local government can consider reusing the cleaned up site. Some communities have used the sites for small businesses, office buildings, health clinics, public buildings, parks or recreational facilities, low-income housing, green space, and parking lots.
- What is EPA doing about petroleum brownfields?
Each year the Agency awards competitive Brownfield grants for the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites, including petroleum brownfield sites. EPA's Office of Underground Storage Tanks and EPA's Brownfields Program developed petroleum brownfields action plans to focus attention and resources on petroleum brownfield sites and to foster the cleanup and reuse of these sites.
- How do I assess a petroleum brownfield site?
- How do I clean up a petroleum brownfield site?
- Are there resources available from EPA to assess and clean up petroleum brownfields?
Yes. EPA's Brownfields Program awards grants and provides technical assistance for just this purpose.
- How much money has EPA awarded to assess and clean up petroleum brownfields?
Since 2002, EPA has awarded an average of $23 million a year to assess and clean up petroleum brownfields.
- Do state and local governments have resources to assess and clean up petroleum brownfields?
Many states and local areas, especially large cities, have brownfields or similar programs that offer technical and/or financial assistance to assess and clean up petroleum brownfields. For more information, contact or visit the website of your state regulatory authority or state brownfields program.
- Are there resources available from other sources to assess and clean up petroleum brownfields?
Yes. Other federal government programs and developers, lenders, banks, and many other entities in the private sector also have resources available for the reuse of petroleum brownfields.
- Is a cleaned up petroleum site really safe to reuse?
Most states have cleanup requirements for contaminated sites. Once a site is cleaned up to meet the state's standard, the state will acknowledge this milestone for the site. From there, the reuse of a site can vary widely. Some states place parameters on how some cleaned up sites can be reused. For instance, some formerly contaminated sites may only be reused for industry and not for schools. Others may be reused for residential housing. Your state government regulatory authority determines the cleanup requirements for your state. For more information, contact your state regulatory authority.
- What can you do with a cleaned up petroleum brownfield site? Are there examples of petroleum brownfields that have been cleaned up and reused?
You can do many things with a cleaned up site. Already petroleum brownfield sites have been cleaned up and reused for many purposes, including small businesses, residential housing, restaurants, health clinics, government buildings, and parks and recreational facilities.
- How many petroleum brownfield sites have been reused to date?
No one knows for sure, though state or local areas may have information available on sites in their jurisdictions. For more information, visit your state, city, or county Web site or contact your state regulatory authority. EPA is just beginning to track the revitalization of these sites as a part of the Assessment, Cleanup, and Redevelopment Exchange Systems (ACRES) System.
- If I want to find a petroleum brownfield site(s) to reuse, where do I look?
Some states and local areas, especially cities and counties, maintain lists of petroleum brownfield sites. Many of these entities maintain the lists on their websites. For more information, contact or visit the website of your state regulatory authority or state brownfields program.
- How do I contact EPA's Brownfields Office?
You can contact the office through the EPA Brownfields website or you can call (202) 566-2777.
U.S. EPA Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization
1200 Pennsylvania, Ave., N.W.
Mail Code: 5105T
Washington, DC 20460
Questions And Answers Specific To EPA's Brownfields Program, 2002 To Present
FY 2003 Questions And Answers
FY 2004 Questions And Answers (see Section V: Petroleum Brownfields) (PDF) (18 pp, 230K, About PDF)
FY 2005 Questions And Answers (see Section V: Petroleum Brownfields)
FY 2006 Questions And Answers (see Section V: Petroleum Brownfields) (PDF) (23 pp, 121K, About PDF)
FY 2007 Questions And Answers (see Section V: Petroleum Brownfields) (PDF) (19 pp, 82K, About PDF)
FY 2008 Questions And Answers (see Section V: Petroleum Brownfields) (PDF) (25 pp, 80K, About PDF)
If I have more questions about petroleum brownfields, who should I ask?
phone: (703) 603-7164
1200 Pennsylvania, Ave., N.W.
Mail Code: 5401P
Washington, DC 20460