1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: peter strauss <pstrauss@igc.apc.org>
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 09:20:39 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Definition, VCPs, and Brownfields -Reply

It is my understanding that Charles and Lenny are correct that it makes
no difference from a regulatory standpoint whether the discharge of
waste materials was intended or unintended, or for that matter, whether
the discharger knew at the time of the act of discharge that the waste
was harmful.  Take for example the thousands of old manufactured gas
plant sites in the US.  Discharges took place as long ago as the
mid-1800's.  Although there are a number of current lawsuits dealing
with when the discharger knew, or should have known that the practices
were harmful in order to assess financial responsibility, state
regulatory bodies have ordered that the current owners of most of these
sites clean them up.

For clarification, contaminated sites fall under two general categories,
at least by federal law.  The first are sites where there have past
releases of a hazardous contaminant to the environment. These sites
contain wastes and other hazardous substances. They fall under CERCLA,
and those sites that pass the hazard ranking system are nominated to the
National Priorities List (NPL). The second are sites where hazardous
wastes, as defined by RCRA, are treated, stored or disposed of. There is
overlap between these two laws, but the latter is usually meant to
manage the generation, transport, and treatment, storage and disposal of
hazardous wastes, whereas the former is intended to past, clean up
uncontrolled releases.  I think that the operative word here is manage,
or perhaps manage after 1976 when RCRA was enacted. In theory,
brownfield properties would fall in both of these categories.  However,
in practice, because Brownfields do not qualify for the NPL because of a
low health ranking score, and are not currently regulated under RCRA,
they fall outside of the regulatory framework. 

A question for Peter Meyer: Can you tell us why the distinction that a
site is a "hazardous waste site" has relevance in federal law or state
law.  I can't find regulatory references to this term (except to refer
to a hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility), which I
believe was introduced to this current discussion by Emery. Also, is
there a federal definition of a Voluntary Cleanup Program.  

Peter Strauss

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