Getting Started With Superfund Redevelopment
Superfund Redevelopment in Region 4
Related National Redevelopment Tools
Becoming involved in the redevelopment of a Superfund site requires considerations different from other contaminated sites (e.g., brownfields). However, successful Superfund site redevelopment projects from around the country demonstrate that the barriers and challenges can be overcome. The steps below highlight key issues and considerations to think about while planning and undertaking the redevelopment of a site. The redevelopment process will vary depending upon the specific characteristics of the site you are interested in redeveloping. In addition, questions can be submitted to the Superfund Redevelopment Coordinators in Region 4.
- Step 1: Gather Information about the Site or Property and Contact the Owner(s)
- Step 2: Access EPA Region 4's Prospective Purchaser Inquiry (PPI) Service
- Step 3: Review Associated Legal Issues and Obtain Liability Clarification and Assurances
- Step 4: Consider Future Use Possibilities
- Step 5: Identify Potential Barriers to Reuse
- Step 6: Address Potential Lender Concerns about Financing
- Step 7: Explore Options for Involving Community in Redevelopment
Step 1: Gather Information about the Site or Property and Contact the Owner(s)
Identifying site ownership and contacting the owner(s)
You will need to gather information about the site to understand its redevelopment potential. For example, as an initial step, you should contact the owner to inquire if the property is for sale.
The vast majority of Superfund sites are owned by private parties or corporations. Only during exceptional circumstances does EPA take ownership of a site. EPA's role is to oversee a cleanup performed by potentially responsible parties (PRPs) or to perform the cleanup itself. In fact, many Superfund site owners are PRPs involved in the cleanup or involved in a cost recovery negotiation with EPA.
You will need to identify and contact the owner(s) of a Superfund site in order to see if the site is for sale and, if so, begin negotiations to buy or lease the site or a portion of the site. You can review locally-held title or tax records to identify the current owner by, for instance, contacting the local property tax appraisal office or using their on-line property databases if available.
Some limited site ownership information may be available in documents included as part of the site's "Progress Profile" accessible through EPA's CERCLIS database. If you are not sure that the site you are interested in is a federal Superfund site or you can't find the site in the CERCLIS database, contact the Superfund Redevelopment Coordinators in Region 4.
Determining the current cleanup status of the site
Conditions and circumstances may determine how and when redevelopment of a Superfund site can proceed. Many sites can be reused during the cleanup work as long as the owner or user of the site is aware of the limitations, such as refraining from drilling ground water wells when there is a contaminated ground water plume.
Additionally, a developer may actually desire to take the lead in all or part of the cleanup process under an agreement with EPA in order to expedite the redevelopment of a particular Superfund site. If you are not already familiar with environmental conditions at the site, collecting information on the site and its cleanup progress is a critical step. Region 4 recommends collecting the following site information, much of which can be accessed by viewing the site's "Progress Profile" accessible through EPA's CERCLIS database and by utilizing Region 4's Prospective Purchaser Inquiry Service described in Step 2:
- Current status of environmental conditions
- Future anticipated cleanup actions
- Current or future restrictions on the use of the site
- Compatibility between anticipated use of the site and the cleanup or restrictions on use
The Tools & Resources section contains additional suggestions.
A related consideration is whether the site is undergoing a short-term cleanup (removal site) or a long-term cleanup (remedial site). Both types of sites can be redeveloped, however EPA recommends you contact the Superfund Redevelopment Coordinators in Region 4 to discuss the different technical and legal issues for removal and remedial sites.
Step 2: Utilize EPA Region 4's Prospective Purchaser Inquiry (PPI) Service
Gather information about the site by utilizing EPA Region 4's Prospective Purchaser Inquiry (PPI) Service. Through the PPI Service, EPA can provide you with information regarding a range of cleanup-related issues, such as cleanup status and potential liability protections which will enable you to make an informed and timely business decision on whether to purchase a particular Superfund site.
Step 3: Review Associated Legal Issues and Obtain Liability Clarification and Assurances
There are complex legal issues associated with reuse of all Superfund sites. In most cases, the legal issues can be addressed by using a variety of liability protections and limitations made available by the law or through other vehicles made available by EPA.
Legal issues related to Superfund site redevelopment include:
- 2002 Brownfield Amendments to the federal Superfund law
- 'Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser' liability protections for purchasers after January 11, 2002
- Superfund Liens
- Windfall Liens
EPA also has many redevelopment services and tools available to provide more certainty to parties interested in purchasing or reusing Superfund sites, including:
- Comfort/status letters
- Site-specific reuse fact sheets
- Ready for Reuse ("RfR") Determinations
- BFPP 'doing work' agreements
Step 4: Consider Future Use Possibilities of the Site
In addition, EPA makes available a limited number of technical reports that explain special issues regarding the redevelopment of Superfund sites for specific uses.
Step 5: Identify Potential Barriers to Reuse
Another step to successfully redevelop the site is to understand whether site-related barriers may prevent certain types of development activity. For instance, many sites are subject to institutional controls, such as restrictive covenants, which frequently restrict residential uses. In other instances, the design of a physical remedy, such as a landfill cap, may prohibit the placement of all or certain types of structures.
EPA or the appropriate state/local agency may more easily assist you in addressing potential barriers if it is aware of your plans for reusing the site in the early stages of the cleanup of the site. Learn more about potential reuse barriers by reviewing the site’s "Progress Profile" accessible through EPA's CERCLIS database, or by contacting EPA Region 4 or the appropriate state/local agency.
Contact the Superfund Redevelopment Coordinators in Region 4 to learn more about the Return to Use Initiative.
Step 6: Address Potential Lender Concerns about Financing
Lenders may have concerns about financing the redevelopment of contaminated properties. Region 4 is willing to work with buyers and their lenders to address any concerns. EPA has many tools to help alleviate potential lenders' concerns about financing contaminated properties, including:
Step 7: Explore Options for Involving Community in Redevelopment
EPA's primary responsibility at Superfund sites is to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. However, with forethought and effective planning, communities can coordinate with EPA and return sites to productive use without jeopardizing the effectiveness of the remedy put into place to protect human health and the environment.
EPA provides support in four areas to assist communities in the Superfund cleanup and redevelopment process including:
- Community Advisory Groups
- Site reuse planning strategies development
- Regional Ombudsman
- Technical Assistance Grants
- Technical Outreach Services for Communities
EPA Headquarters also provides:
- Research and analysis services
- Partnership support
- Community involvement support
Contact the Superfund Redevelopment Coordinators in Region 4 to learn more.