Brownfields in Idaho
A brownfields site is a vacant or underutilized property where redevelopment or reuse is complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination.
- Eligible sites may include former gas stations, mine sites, timber mill sites, bulk fuel storage and distribution sites, and landfills, and generally any commercial or industrial site that may be contaminated with hazardous substances.
- Sites that may not be eligible include properties listed on EPA's National Priorities List, sites that are the subject of an ongoing state or federal enforcement action related to site cleanup, properties where the contamination is known to present a high risk to public health, properties subject to an ongoing Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) removal action, and properties subject to enforcement under certain federal hazardous waste laws.
Idaho's Brownfields Revitalization Program
Brownfields revitalization is a process in which contamination at brownfields sites is addressed so that the sites can be redeveloped. Some brownfields properties are usable but have not been targeted for redevelopment. Most, however, have some form of contamination that needs to be addressed before the land can be used. During the brownfields revitalization process, the contamination is identified and addressed. Cleanup efforts can include actively removing contaminants or isolating contaminants so that they cannot leak into the environment.
Environmental and Economic Benefits
Revitalization of brownfields properties can have both environmental and economic benefits for the sites and the communities in which they are located.
From an environmental perspective, cleanup of contamination is important because it reduces the release of harmful contaminants into the environment, making the environment safer. Environmental cleanup can reduce health problems in the neighboring community and support plant and animal life. Additionally, by developing brownfields, people are ensuring that land is fully utilized, rather than spreading out and using previously undisturbed land, which might be providing wildlife habitat or an environmental buffer.
Developing brownfields can improve property values by making neighborhoods more desirable, and it can bring development back into a community, rather than allowing it to go elsewhere. Developing brownfields can create jobs in depressed areas, revitalize many areas of town, and free up land resources for projects like parks for children or community gardens.
Is a Brownfields Property Impacting Your Community?
Over the past several years, DEQ has been developing an inventory of brownfields sites in Idaho. The inventory is used to help identify areas of need and prioritize assessment and cleanup funding. To propose a property for inclusion in DEQ's brownfields inventory, complete and submit a Proposed Brownfield Site form to DEQ via e-mail, fax, or mail.
For planning and development purposes, it is often helpful for communities to complete their own brownfields inventories. The goal of such a project might include creating a list of properties within the community that are vacant, abandoned, and/or underutilized due to a stigma of contamination or actual contamination and could be redeveloped to produce jobs and revenue, or turned into parks for the community’s enjoyment.
After the properties are identified, communities may choose properties to take further into the brownfields process by requesting and possibly securing an environmental assessment and/or cleanup funds (if necessary) from DEQ and/or EPA, often at no cost to the applicant. Once environmental or potential environmental issues have been resolved, the property will be ready for successful redevelopment.
Brownfields Assessment Program
DEQ's Brownfields Assessment Program funds and conducts environmental assessments of brownfields sites to assist communities in revitalizing their neighborhoods. DEQ conducts as many community brownfields assessments as funding allows. If contamination is found, DEQ will work with the applicant to locate funding opportunities for cleaning up the property and returning it to productive use. Learn more.
Funds are available to assist communities in assessing and cleaning up brownfields properties. Each year, EPA provides direct funding for brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, and environmental job training. Learn more.
Voluntary Cleanup Program
DEQ's Voluntary Cleanup Program is designed to encourage innovation and cooperation between the state, local communities, and private parties to revitalize properties with hazardous substances or petroleum contamination. Find out how the program works and how to participate here.
Brownfields Success Stories
Success at a brownfields site can mean different things. Sometimes success is defined by removing the stigma of environmental contamination. Often, the results of an environmental assessment reveal that the suspected brownfield is not contaminated, thus clearing the way for redevelopment. Other times, a combination of risk evaluation, environmental covenants, and/or careful land use planning can pave the way for brownfields redevelopment at sites where contamination does exist. Sometimes, some level of cleanup is required to make the brownfields property safe for reuse and redevelopment. Access information on brownfields sites in the process of redevelopment or redeveloped here.