What is the definition of a brownfield?

“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.”- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Brownfields are traditionally seen as the consequences of past manufacturing and heavy industrial operations. Within Washington County there are currently 140 brownfields, occupying 10,000 acres, including mine scarred land. This is 2% of the county’s total land area.

What is RACW’s Goal?

To remediate and prepare brownfield sites for redevelopment.

Since cleanup standards vary based on future use, redevelopment can present a broad range of future opportunities for communities with brownfield sites. Communities throughout the country have attracted new industries to brownfield sites and also have been successful at transforming former industrial sites into new residential, commercial, recreational, and mixed-use developments.

What is RACW’s Brownfields Initiative?

  1. To identify, remediate, market and reuse abandoned industrial and commercial properties that have become detriments to their respective communities.
  2. Eliminate blight, create jobs, increase the county’s tax base, and improve vitality of businesses, neighborhoods and county’s culture.

RACW was awarded two Environmental Assessment Grants to conduct Phase I and Phase II assessments on selected brownfield sites. Also, RACW is working to partner private investment and public resources to make these sites attractive and productive.

After successful remediation and development of brownfields, communities can see visible results of revitalization efforts in the form of community and economic development projects. RACW will assist developers by linking them with available sites and financial resources and facilitating municipal and community efforts.

What are some examples of brownfields?

  • Chemical plants
  • Oil refineries
  • Closed steel mills
  • Gas stations
  • Slag dumps
  • Mine dumps
  • Bottling plants
  • Storage facilities
  • Mine-scarred lands
  • Abandoned mine lands

What are the benefits of redeveloping brownfields?

  • Protect human and environmental health
  • Increase local tax base
  • Facilitate job growth
  • Preserve Greenfields
  • Utilize existing infrastructure
  • Improve blighted areas
  • Rebuild business districts
  • Decreases urban sprawl

With proper planning, resource gathering, and strategizing, communities that have suffered economic decline in the past can effectively redevelop brownfields to create vibrant, successful, and productive communities.