New York City (NYC)
One of the big problems faced by expanding metropolitan areas throughout the world is shortage of land. NYC is surrounded by water. Its unique geography poses particular challenge, since possibilities for expansion are limited. In order to overcome this problem and to achieve sustainable growth, the city needs to clean up contaminated land and make it suitable for future development. The Office of Environmental Remediation estimates that the current number of brownfields in NYC is between 1,500 and 2,000 of various sizes. It is also anticipated that new brownfield sites will continue to emerge as some buildings reach the end of their useful life. These buildings will have to be demolished and the land will need to be revitalized and made suitable for use. Some of the land use strategies like affordable housing, open space and transit oriented rezoning overlap significantly with the brownfield revitalization efforts. This makes the opportunities for potential utilization of brownfields virtually endless.
In order to consolidate and centralize the city's brownfield clean up efforts, Mayor Bloomberg created the Office of Environmental Remediation(OER) in June 2008 and in May 2009 signed into law the New York City Brownfiled and Community Revitalization Act. The law provides OER with a broad authority to stimulate brownfield clean up and to administer financial incentive programs,community outreach and training. OER also provides financial assistance to qualifying brownfield properties through the Brownfield Incentive Grants Program. The grants can be used towards pre-development design studies, environmental investigations, environmental cleanups etc. The grant awards vary within the range of $60,000 to $100,000 for most projects.
For the purposes of NYC Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), a brownfield is any real property within NYC where the redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of contamination. Contamination includes hazardous waste (including petroleum) in any environmental media including soil, historic fill, surface water, groundwater, soil vapor or indoor air.
An important component of brownfield programs is the creation of green jobs. Clean up and restoration of contaminated lands requires workforce trained in hazardous waste handling. In order to build such workforce OER launched a Brownfield Worker Subsidized Employment Program in 2009 and obtained a $400,000 New York State grant to subsidize workers in this field.
Clean up of brownfields contributes to the overall public and environmental health of NYC, as hazardous waste and contaminants are being removed.