1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Tony Chenhansa <tonyc@cpeo.org>
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 13:45:13 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: "Tackling Brownfields"-Supplemental Environmental Projects
The following is an article from EPA's Office of Site Remedation
publication CleanupNews (Winter 1998)

In April 1998, EPA issued the final Supplemental Environmental Projects
Policy. Information regarding SEPs can be found at:


"Tackling Brownfields"

In settling environmental enforcement cases, EPA encourages defendants
and respondents to include Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in
their settlements. SEPs are environmentally beneficial projects that
parties agree to undertake in settling a civil penalty action, but which
they are not otherwise legally required to perform. In return, a
percentage of the SEP's cost is considered as a factor in establishing
the final cash penalty. SEPs enhance the environmental quality of
communities that have been put at risk due to the violation of an
environmental law.

Because of their connection to the community, EPA is encouraging SEPs
that facilitate the reuse of "brownfield" properties. "Brownfields" are
abandoned pieces of land  usually in inner city areas  that are
lightly contaminated from previous industrial use. These sites do not
qualify as NPL sites because they do not pose serious public health
risks. However because of the stigma of contamination and legal barriers
to redevelopment, businesses do not buy the land and sites remain roped
off, unproductive and vacant.

SEPs at brownfields may involve investigating or monitoring the
environmental media at the property, removing or remediating
contamination, or creating conservation land. If you are considering
undertaking a SEP at a nearby brownfield property, here are some of the
considerations you should keep in mind. First, SEPs at a brownfield
cannot include action that the defendant/respondent is otherwise legally
required to perform under federal, state, or local law or regulation. As
a general rule, if a party owns a brownfield or is responsible for the
primary environmental degradation at a site, assessment or cleanup
activities cannot constitute a SEP.

Second, the SEP must be within the same ecosystem or within a 50-mile
radius of a site from which the violation occurred, and the environment
where the brownfield is located must be affected or potentially
threatened by the violation.

Third, SEPs at brownfields cannot include action that the federal
government is likely to undertake or compel another to undertake. Thus,
for example, because of EPA's statutory obligations, SEPs are
inappropriate for NPL sites or other sites where the federal government
is planning or conducting a removal action.

Fourth, SEPs may be performed at brownfields involuntarily acquired by
municipalities, but they are not likely to be approved if they provide
additional funds to a municipality, state, or other entity to perform
tasks for which they have received a federal Brownfields Assessment
Demonstration Pilot or other federal brownfields grant.

Finally, local communities should be afforded an opportunity to comment
on and contribute to the design of a proposed SEP at a brownfield site.

For more information, contact David Gordon at 202-564-5147 or email at



Tony Chenhansa,  Program Coordinator
Center for Public Environmental Oversight (CPEO)
425 Market Street 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA  94105
ph: 415-405-7751 fx: 415-904-7765
e-mail: tonyc@cpeo.org

A program of the San Francisco Urban Institute

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