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2001 Brownfields Update

SRP Publications Brownfields Reports 2001

United States and Germany Brownfield Partnership — A Global Approach to the Sharing of Environmental Strategies on Brownfield Cleanup and Reuse

The cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites of hazardous materials is a global concern that requires an integrated approach to mitigate the risks to human health and the environment. Many countries have committed extensive resources to the effort to address environmental, social and economic issues related to cleanup and redevelopment of these contaminated hazardous waste sites. The challenge is how to capitalize on the resources, expertise, and knowledge of countries that are developing solutions to those issues and effectively share this information. It is clear that the successful development of brownfields requires the cooperative efforts of Federal and State agencies as well as private individuals.

In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) established a bilateral working group to gain a better understanding of each country’s efforts in the cleanup of hazardous waste sites and to evaluate the effectiveness of innovative technologies being applied at selected sites in each country. The overall objective of the Bilateral Work-group is for each partner country to gain a comprehensive understanding of the other’s approach to remediating hazardous waste sites and evaluating the effectiveness of innovative technologies being applied at these sites.

In April 2001 the workgroup was expanded to include the state of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. This addition will provide feedback and input on brownfield processes and issues from a state perspective regarding the cleanup and reuse of these contaminated properties. New Jersey’s successful brownfield program contains numerous incentives and processes specifically designed to encourage the cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties that are a blight to the urban landscape. The goals of the workgroup meetings are to identify, evaluate, and focus on the barriers to cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites in both countries.

Throughout the course of the discussion at the initial meeting it was interesting that both Germany and the U.S./New Jersey have identified similar obstacles to the cleanup and redevelopment of abandoned contaminated properties. The lack of predictable benefits such as economic, ecological and social benefits to the area surrounding a brownfield site were also identified as issues to be addressed as the process moves forward. Specifically, issues of urban sprawl, revitalization of the cities and the development of incentives to promote this aspect of cleanup and redevelopment, liability, and identification and marketing of brownfield sites.

Both countries agreed to initiate the development of training, guidance materials, workshops and resource websites that can be used by all interested parties to facilitate the cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties.

Photo of people visiting the park built upon the former Landschaftspark Duisberg-Nord siteBrownfield redevelopment is a way to enhance sustainable urban development and includes the following presumptions:

  • Prevent further land consumption
  • Prevent growing financial burdens for the citizens through the use of available infrastructure
  • Stabilization and broadening the municipal tax base
  • Economic and social revitalization of negatively affected communities
  • Enhancing the quality of life in cities
  • Brownfields as “experimental stages”
  • chances for innovative sustainable projects

With agreement from all participants on the Technical Bilateral workgroup, the Phase III workplan implementation is moving forward.

Photo of the Landschaftspark Duisberg-Nord industrial building
Landschaftspark Duisberg-Nord is a former industrial site reused as a park and enjoyed by area residents. It represents a creative and innovative reuse strategy by German environmental officials.

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