Five stories of brownfield renewal in Oregon
from Metro’s “Regional Snapshot” series
A generally accepted definition of a brownfield is "a real property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination."
Every Oregon city and county, whether rural or urban, has vacant, underused and potentially contaminated properties. To get lists of sites that DEQ considers brownfields (sites that have received financial or technical assistance), visit the DEQ Environmental Cleanup Site Information query page, and click on "Search complete ECSI database." Then, when the fill-in form appears, click the box at the bottom right labeled "Return only Current or Former Brownfield Sites," enter other limiting parameters as desired, and click "Submit."
Many programs assist with brownfields. Listed below are links to federal, state and local programs and funding sources commonly used to assist in brownfield investigation, cleanup, and redevelopment, plus news and links to related web pages.
Federal brownfield resources
State of Oregon brownfield resources
DEQ performs Site-Specific Assessments that are funded by EPA and designed to promote redevelopment or property transfer. An SSA generates detailed information on environmental conditions at a site, and provides recommendations and cost estimates for cleanup, as needed. An SSA helps remove environmental stigma from a property by providing information on whether it is contaminated - and to what extent. DEQ addresses concerns about the site in an advisory capacity; neither DEQ nor EPA will require additional action unless an SSA documents an imminent threat to human health or the environment.
Public entities; non-profit/community development organizations; and "quasi-public" organizations such as port authorities. Private-sector site owners cannot apply directly for an SSA, but must find an appropriate local government to do so on their behalf.
With a few exceptions, almost any property is eligible for an SSA. DEQ gives preference to sites with little or no environmental information, and where community-supported redevelopment plans are in place. SSAs are free to public-sector and non-profit owners who are not responsible for site contamination. Privately held sites must have a local-government sponsor; furthermore, a private owner must agree to help offset the SSA's cost, either through direct repayment, an agreement to discount the property's sale price or fund site cleanup, or other means that can be negotiated with DEQ.
To apply, contact any of the following DEQ staff:
- Gil Wistar, Headquarters, Portland, 503-229-5512
- Rebecca Wells-Albers, Northwest Region, Portland, 503-229-5585
- Katie Robertson, Eastern Region, Pendleton, 541-278-4620
- Mary Camarata, Western Region, Eugene, 541-687-7435
- Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities
In 2008, EPA awarded new TAB grants, which provide geographically-based technical assistance and training free of charge to communities and other stakeholders on brownfields issues, with the goal of increasing the community's understanding and involvement in brownfield cleanup and revitalization. The TAB grants serve as an independent source of information assisting communities with community involvement, better understanding the health impacts of brownfield sites, science and technology relating to brownfield site assessment, remediation, and site preparation activities, brownfield finance questions, and information on integrated approaches to brownfield cleanup and redevelopment. The Center for Creative Land Recycling, located in San Francisco, CA, is the TAB grantee that serves communities in EPA Regions 8, 9, and 10 – including all of Oregon.
Local and other brownfield resources