The Star-Herald

NMDC offers brownfield site assessment funds

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine — Funding is still available for brownfield environmental site assessments in Aroostook County, but property owners, municipalities and others need to nominate sites for possible review.

A brownfield is 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. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program assists states and local communities to assess, safely clean up and reuse Brownfields for economic development projects.

Jay Kamm, senior planner at Northern Maine Development Commission in Caribou, said the program is designed to assist property owners, whose property is for sale, with both Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments. Kamm added funding is available for properties potentially contaminated with petroleum products.

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is a historical and record review of the property and investigates the history of what the land has been used for in the past to see if any activities at the property could have caused on-site contamination. A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, if needed, involves a more detailed examination of the property, such as ground water and soil sampling, to determine if contamination does exist on the property.

“This is all about closing the loop and getting these brownfields identified, cleaned up and hopefully redeveloped,” Kamm said.

Brownfield funding has been used to assess sites in many Aroostook County towns.  Successful redevelopment of brownfield sites has occurred in Ashland, Washburn, Portage Lake, Limestone, Fort Kent, Presque Isle and others.

Kamm said these sites have gone from vacant and abandoned properties to vibrant retail and service establishments or public open space contributing to the municipal tax base.

If a property is nominated and eligible for assessments, the property owner can realize significant cost savings as there is no cost to the property owner. In many cases a Phase I can cost between $2,500 and $3,500, while Phase IIs significantly higher, often in the $20,000-plus range.

A brownfield steering committee made up of realtors, bankers, health and environmental officials, ranks and scores the sites to see which properties are eligible for the Brownfield Assessment Program.

Municipalities or landowners can contact Kamm at jkamm@nmdc.org or (207) 493-5757 for more information.

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