What is a Brownfield?
A Brownfield is piece of land that a community, organization, or agency wants to redevelop or reuse but cannot because the land is contaminated or perceived to be contaminated by a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant (Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation definition).
Examples of Brownfield sites include:
- Illegal dumpsites
- Abandoned tank farms
- Old canneries
- Abandoned buildings with contaminants like lead-based paint or asbestos materials
- Abandoned mines
- Abandoned properties where petroleum products have been spilt
- Former military or defense sites
Examples of common contaminants:
- Petroleum products (gas or diesel)
- PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls)
- Mercury and methylmercury
All of these substances are known toxins and can cause a range of health effects including types of cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders. Cleaning up contaminated sites protects human and ecologic health by preventing exposure to dangerous chemicals and ensuring the safety of traditional foods harvested nearby. Both the CDC and EPA provide more information about the specific health impacts of each contaminant.
Examples of potential Brownfields in the Maniilaq Service Area:
What does the Brownfields Program at Maniilaq do?
The Brownfields program, under the Tribal Response Program (TRP), creates an inventory of Brownfield sites and a public record for community members to be aware of contamination in their village. The Brownfields Program also connects Tribes and villages with resources to assess, clean up and reuse Brownfields.
Where are the potential Brownfields in Northwest Alaska?
What should I do if I know about other Brownfields in my community?
How does a Brownfield get cleaned up?
The site must be assessed for contamination through an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), a cleanup plan developed, remediation undertaken, and then clean-up activities must be certified with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). All contaminated materials such as soil with petroleum products needs to be disposed of appropriately – not simply placed in the community landfill. After clean-up is complete, the site can be reused for community purposes or returned to native plant species. Cleaning up a Brownfield can be a lengthy process so the best way to protect community health is through Brownfields prevention.
What resources are available to help with clean ups?
Brownfield sites may be eligible for funding from the EPA through Targeted Brownfields Assessments (TBA), Alaska DEC through their Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Service (DBAC) or other funding grants. However, these programs are only available if the person or entity that caused the contamination (also referred to as the responsible party) cannot be located or is unable to pay for cleanup. Former military sites have separate streams of funding available for clean ups which vary by department or agency.
How can I have a say about Brownfields?
Talk to your city and/or tribal government about Brownfields in your area.
Look out for fliers or radio announcements about upcoming Brownfields outreach events in your village.
Call the Maniilaq Brownfields coordinator for the most up-to-date information about public meetings and specific sites: 907-442-7783.
Where can I find out more?
Call the Maniilaq Brownfields coordinator at 907-442-7783.