Amendments to City Brownfield Cleanup Program Rules
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
Statement of Basis and Purpose
The Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation (“OER” or “the Office”) proposes to amend the rules of the New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program to obtain information and tighten cleanup requirements for new industrial uses in connection with remediation of coastal properties in New York City. The Office administers the Brownfield Cleanup Program, which provides landowners and developers with City government approval and oversight of cleanup plans for light to moderately contaminated sites across the City. New York City Charter § 15(e)(4) authorizes the Director of OER to develop and administer a local brownfield cleanup program. The Director is further authorized by Charter § 15(e)(18) and Administrative Code § 24-903 to adopt rules to implement the program.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it has become clear that flooding and coastal erosion have the potential to disperse contaminants located on coastal properties to neighboring properties. The proposed amendments to the Brownfield Cleanup Program rules would require parties to compile information on natural factors that could mobilize contaminants, and would tighten cleanup standards for when certain coastal properties are redeveloped.
Under the proposed amendments, the remedial investigation required by the Office would include a determination of the property’s elevation above sea level and its proximity to tidal surface water bodies. The proposed amendments would also recognize coastal erosion as a natural force that can relocate contaminants. The amendments would tighten cleanup standards for properties that are susceptible to significant coastal erosion from severe storms and are proposed for industrial use. If the owner of such a parcel opts to implement a Track Two cleanup, the amendments would require the property to be remediated in accordance with commercial cleanup standards.
In addition to these changes, the amendments would allow a property owner to certify to the Office that a physical barrier or cover, used as part of a site remedy, will continue to function as an effective barrier to residual contamination at a property remediated under the Brownfield Cleanup Program. The amendments would also authorize the Office-issued notice of completion to be recorded in a public repository on the office’s website, in lieu of requiring the site owner to record the notice in the property recording office of the borough in which the site is located. Posting the notice of completion on the Office’s website would be a simpler and faster way of notifying the public that a site has been remediated under the Brownfield Cleanup Program.
Finally, the amendments would authorize OER to issue acceptance letters, as contemplated by City Charter § 15(e)(14), to facilitate the financing of real estate transactions where a party has raised concern that the property might contain contamination. Upon request, OER would review contaminant data for the site and the owner’s plans for the property, and would conduct a site inspection. If OER were to determine that a property has no more than minimal contamination and does not require further action, the Office would issue an acceptance letter, which can serve to reassure parties to a real estate transaction. The Office would charge a $5,000 fee for the issuance of such letters.
These proposed rules were not included in the Office’s regulatory agenda because they were not contemplated when the regulatory agenda was issued.