EPD’s Land Protection Branch (LPB) currently manages a number of cleanup and oversight programs. The majority of these activities are carried out under the provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and they include hazardous and solid waste management, emergency response activities, and underground storage tank management. The Hazardous Waste Programs within the LPB conduct RCRA hazardous waste management activities and are also funded to conduct federal assessment and/or oversight activities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). In addition to these federally funded response activities, the Hazardous Site Response Act (HSRA), Georgia’s state superfund statute, was enacted in 1992 to supplement Georgia’s ability to address releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents. The LPB thus administers cleanup of many types of site impacts, whether resulting from releases of hazardous waste, hazardous constituents, or petroleum.
In the past, many impacted or potentially impacted properties passed through the Hazardous Waste Programs without triggering action under any federal or state authority. These properties occupied a “no-man’s land” where a lack of state resources for cleanup oversight and approval caused them to languish for years as blighted properties. The Georgia Brownfield Act (OCGA 12-8-200, as amended), formerly the Hazardous Site Reuse and Redevelopment Act, provides liability protection to prospective purchasers of contaminated properties from third party claims arising from past releases and groundwater cleanup. In exchange, they must investigate and cleanup soil and source material to meet the risk reduction standards (RRS- state cleanup standards) promulgated under the Rules for Hazardous Site Response. This legislation, along with the tax incentive passed in 2003, has resulted in greater attention being focused on redevelopment of contaminated properties statewide. Federal CERCLA 128(a) funding significantly enhances the capability of the Hazardous Waste Programs, through establishment of a voluntary cleanup program under the LPB of EPD, to enable these properties to proceed more quickly towards cleanup, reuse and revitalization.
Brownfield Public Record
Georgia received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in federal fiscal year 2004 to enhance its public record capabilities. Since then, Georgia has maintained a public record for properties where voluntary actions are underway or have been completed pursuant to the Georgia Brownfield Act (Act). The Brownfield Public Listing provides information on these properties in an abbreviated format, while the larger component of the public record consists of the documents used to reach decisions regarding investigation and remediation pursuant to the Act. These documents include, but are not limited to, approved corrective action plans (CAPs), approved compliance status reports (CSRs), CAP approval letters, final limitation of liability certificates, and risk assessment comments. The CAP approval letters and the final limitation of liability certificates serve as prospective purchaser agreements and “ready for reuse” determinations, respectively. The files for brownfield properties are available for review by appointment at 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. SE, Suite 1052 East Tower, Atlanta, GA, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Prospective purchasers may also register for an account and submit a brownfield application and other brownfield submittals, including amendments to approved CAPs, CSRs, and status reports, through the Georgia Environmental Online System portal (GEOS). Note that more recent submittals may be available in GEOS for general users to review. Please contact the Brownfield Unit at (404) 656-7802 for more information.
Georgia Brownfield Properties
The Brownfield Public Listing is a summary table of information on properties for which a brownfield application has been received. Specifically, the table provides approval dates for the corrective action plan (cleanup plan date) and the compliance status report (cleanup complete date). Those properties at which investigations and cleanups are still underway will only have a cleanup plan date and “To Be Determined” (TBD) will be listed in the Risk Reduction Standard and Use Restricted columns. For properties where investigations and cleanups are complete, the cleanup complete date, the residential or non-residential cleanup standard (RRS) that was achieved, and use restrictions (if applicable) are listed. A property whose use is restricted means that the soil on the property was either brought into compliance with the non-residential cleanup standard or exposure to contaminants in the soil is being controlled through use of engineered and institutional controls. The Type 5 RRS column is marked “Yes” and the Use Restricted Column will be marked “Restricted” for those properties where compliance was achieved through the use of engineered and institutional controls. Type 5 properties may be reused for residential or non-residential purposes depending on the site-specific controls. Both Hazardous Site Inventory (HSI State Superfund List) properties and non-HSI properties are shown.
The Rules for Hazardous Site Response contain provisions for institutional controls at sites listed on the HSI. Deed notices and/or environmental covenants are required for HSI sites, including HSI brownfield properties, where EPD has determined that corrective action is warranted, where properties are in compliance with the non-residential RRS, and where control measures must be used because contaminant removal or decontamination is not feasible. More information on the HSI may be found here.
For brownfield properties that undergo investigations and cleanups pursuant to the Act, the certification of compliance with the residential or non-residential RRS functions as a de facto land use restriction. Properties for which the prospective purchaser certifies compliance with the non-residential RRS are subject to revocation of their limitation of liability certificate if the property is later used or developed for residential purposes. Such properties would be subject to enforcement actions under the Hazardous Site Response Act, or State Superfund Law (OCGA 12-8-90).
For brownfield properties that are unable to remove or decontaminate source material or soil, engineered controls are required to prevent migration of contaminants and human exposure. A restrictive covenant is also required, detailing maintenance and monitoring of the engineered control and remedial actions. The covenant may also require markers denoting the restricted use zone(s). The restrictive covenant runs with the land and is binding on current and future property owners. More information regarding environmental covenants, including a list of properties with finalized covenants can be found at the link below.
Brownfield Tax Incentives
Prospective purchasers of brownfield properties for which a CAP or CSR has been approved and a limitation of liability has been issued and not revoked are eligible to recoup eligible brownfield costs incurred to certify compliance through abatement of property taxes. Cost documentation is provided to EPD for review, and a certification of costs is then issued to the prospective purchaser who applies to the local taxing authority for the preferential brownfield assessment.