Brownfields - Rochester, NY area

Consider how how the proliferation of brownfields in our area affects our environment, including NewsLinks, Resources, and Information for the Rochester, NY area.  Increasingly, Brownfields are going to be more of a problem as Climate Change in our region intensifies.  

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Page Contents: Brownfield NewsLinks | Brownfields and Climate Change |Brownfields Discussions | Locating Brownfields | Preventing Brownfields | Restoring Brownfields |Resources Love Canal | Essays On Brownfields |


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Brownfields are abandoned sites, usually in urban locations, that are tainted by either real or perceived contamination, making them undesirable for private redevelopment efforts.

Too often instead of cleaning these sites up and reading them for a new industry, the industry that caused the damage goes bankrupt, cannot clean up the mess and new industries look for undeveloped pristine land to establish themselves.

From Brownfields we not only have an abandoned unwanted site that encourages sprawl, but a leaching problem that may be causing health problem.  Rochester and Monroe County have several Brownfields (Check out Environmental Cleanup & Brownfields - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation) and so do probably every city in the United States and elsewhere.


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SEARCH: Use search engine below to find anything posted since 1998.


Brownfields and Climate Change

Increasingly, Brownfields are going to be more of a problem as Climate Change in our region intensifies.

  • "The prospect of more intense and more frequent storms and sea-level rise carries with it the risk of contaminant releases from RCRA Corrective Action sites, Superfund sites, Brownfield sites and landfills. As noted in EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan, inundation and flooding may lead to transport of contaminants through surface soils, groundwater, surface waters and/or coastal waters. Uncontrolled migration of contaminants may pose an increased risk of adverse health and environmental impacts. " Page 24, 2013) EPA Region 2 Climate Adaptation Plan 2013


Discussions on Brownfields

Join in Rochester area Brownfield discussion about why we have Brownfields and what their implications are if we don't get them cleaned up. *

  • DEC offers remedy for toxic site in Spencerport The state Department of Environmental Conservation has released a proposed remedy for a 1.2-acre contaminated waste site at 500 South Union Street in Spencerport. According to DEC, the remedy calls for injecting “biological amendments” into the areas contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds. The amendments will help feed microorganisms that naturally break down the toxins. Other aspects of the plan call for installing a system to prevent vapors from entering the buildings, removing and disposing of any surface soils that exceed cleanup standards. Public comments will be accepted through March 27, 2013. For more on the plan, visit the DEC web site and enter the code C828153. (February 14, 2013) Democrat and Chronicle [more on Brownfields in our area]
  • Litter Day for Rochester, NY’s environment A warm spell in February should be a day to get a glimpse of the spring to come, not a morbid revelation that we been throwing packaging and everything else out the window all winter long.   Today (February 18, 2011) was a beautiful day to get out and walk in Rochester, NY.  It was a warm, sunny break from the freezing cold winter we’ve been having—except for all the litter.  In just a short walk around Rochester I experienced a world full of trash blowing about as if a very disdainful species were just leaving the place, impatient to get back to their own planet that their parents had just cleaned up for them.  A thaw in the cold shouldn’t be “Litter Day” in Rochester. Litter accumulates in our environment by blocking our sewers and providing mock or poisonous food for creatures hungry from a long winter.  It leaches poisons into our ground and, given the endless variety of harmful ingredients in all that garbage, wreaks havoc on what little of pristine nature there is left to us.  more...
  • Why Godzilla is bad for our Rochester, NY environment Strange creatures in our region are evolving quickly to adapt to our toxic soups—those Brownfields and polluted waters we’ve been neglecting in our region for quite some time.   Who knew, those Japanese weren’t kidding—Godzilla lives!  Check out what’s happening in the Hudson River, just a few biomes away: “Most people think of evolution occurring gradually over thousands of years, but apparently no one told the Atlantic tomcod. In just 50 years or so, the Hudson River fish has evolved to become resistant to toxic PCBs that polluted the river, researchers reported Thursday. Their secret is a gene variant. " (February 17, 2011) Hudson River fish resists PCBs through gene variant | " “Monsters in our midst” make for great headlines for local environmental issues that don’t often get many headlines.   That’s great because according to mainstream media, a planet that is slowly wasting away due to human pollution and other environmental issues is dull potatoes.   Mutant species, though, arising from the gunk we once called rivers, is another kettle of fish.  more...
  • Ubiquitous Pollution    Within the last couple of weeks, I have posted numerous environmental articles on Brownfieldsway more than normal Speculating as to why there is a sudden interest in Brownfields in the local media, I thought of several possible factors: There’s a rash of Brownfields actually springing up; or, the media is clearing their desks of Brownfields related articles; or, because localized pollution events oftentimes show up randomly anyways; or, the media are becoming more attentive to what our policies towards recklessly releasing man-made chemicals into our environment has wrought.  Possibly, because the United States does not have strict regulations on the chemicals used in our products or released into our environment (as the Europeans do) this irresponsible policy is catching up with us.  more ...
  • Good Environmental Coverage I applaud this story below by the Democrat and Chronicle yesterday for it thoroughness and importance. Not that all good local environmental reporting has to be about a negative situation (Brownfields), but every community should have a thorough understanding of its environment in order for its citizens to act and vote to keep their local environmental sustainable. more...

Locating Brownfields

Where are the Brownfields in the Rochester, NY area?  Check these search engines below to find out if there is a Brownfield near you.

  • DMR Pollutant Loading Tool | US EPA "The Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool is a new tool designed to help you determine who is discharging, what pollutants they are discharging and how much, and where they are discharging. The tool calculates pollutant loadings from permit and DMR data from EPA‘s Permit Compliance System (PCS) and Integrated Compliance Information System for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (ICIS-NPDES). Data is available for the years 2007 through 2010. Pollutant loadings are presented as pounds per year and as toxic-weighted pounds per year to account for variations in toxicity among pollutants. The tool ranks dischargers, industries, and watersheds based on pollutant mass and toxicity, and presents “top ten” lists to help you determine which discharges are important, which facilities and industries are producing these discharges, and which watersheds are impacted. "
  • Where are the Brownfields in the Rochester, NY region?  Here:   The Cleanup Map | rocdocs The Rochester region is dotted with contaminated properties, testament to the area's industrial past and New York's present-day emphasis on addressing these old blights. Many have already been cleaned up, but many more remain works in progress. This map, in conjunction with the Democrat and Chronicle's 520 environmental blog, tracks work at these sites. Under government cleanup programs, work follows a prescribed course of studies and site investigations, workplan proposals, public comment periods and, finally, remediation. Government money pays for work at state or federal Superfund sites; private parties pay under the voluntary and brownfield programs, though state credits are given to brownfield participants. It can take years for a contaminated site to wind its way through any of these programs. This map and the 520 blog will be expanded and updated frequently to keep up with progress at these sites. 520 – An Environmental Blog | Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
  • Where are those contaminated sites (Brownfields) in our area and are they getting cleaned up?  Keep informed on this important information by signed up to the DEC’s email list: Contaminated Sites Email Listservs - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation The DEC's Division of Environmental Remediation is committed to informing and involving the public during the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites being addressed under the State's various remedial programs. As a listserv member, you will periodically receive site-related information/announcements for all contaminated sites in the counties you select. DEC invites you to receive site information by email by signing up at the appropriate county listserv(s) identified below. It's quick, it's free, and it will help keep you better informed. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 
  • Find toxic chemical releases in your area using your zip code: Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program | US EPA "Toxics Release Inventory is a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and waste management activities reported annually by certain industries as well as federal facilities. The TRI program compiles the TRI data each year and makes it available through downloadable files and several data access tools. The goal of TRI is to provide communities with information about toxic chemical releases and waste management activities and to support informed decision making at all levels by industry, government, non-governmental organizations, and the public. " US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Check out Welcome to ecoTHREAT-NY Welcome to CEC's  The site that lets you zoom to maps of your community and view the top environmental concerns, find out about each pollution source, and learn how to take action
  • Who is polluting in your area?  Check out the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory: The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), published by the U.S. EPA, is a valuable source of information regarding toxic chemicals that are being used, manufactured, treated, transported, or released into the environment.
  • RTKNet: The Right-to-Know Network | The Right-to-Know Network "The Right-to-Know Network provides free access to numerous databases and resources on the environment. With the information available on RTK NET, you can identify specific factories and their environmental effects; find permits issued under environmental statutes; and identify civil cases filed.
  • Hazardous Sites This list of disposal sites with vapor intrusion problems was prepared by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Two of these vapor sites are no longer listed on the registry. The description of the Leastman Landfill site in Murray, Orleans County, was taken from a fact sheet published by the DEC in 2001. Text describing the Former Romeo Ford site in Webster was taken from the 1997 DEC registry. | Democrat and Chronicle | Rochester news, community, entertainment, yellow pages and classifieds. Serving Rochester, New York
  • EPA | Envirofacts is a US EPA database. With EnviroFacts, you can find out which facilities in your neighborhood are releasing pollutants or are legally handling hazardous materials, where any Superfund sites are located and what their cleanup status is. Specifically, you can retrieve: Facility Information; Chemicals; Air Releases; Toxic Releases Inventory (TRI) Reports; Superfund Reports Hazardous Waste (RCRIS) Reports; Drinking Water Occurrence; Safe Drinking Water Information; Drinking Water Microbial and Disinfection Byproduct Information Water Discharge Permits; Brownfields Pilot Projects; Risk Management Plans; Construction, Non-Construction, and State Revolving Funds grant programs
    • EPA Enforcement and Compliance History Online This Web site allows you to search for facilities in your community for the purpose of determining whether: EPA or State/local governments have conducted compliance inspections violations were detected or enforcement actions were taken and penalties were assessed in response to environmental law violations.
  • Scorecard "Scorecard is the web's most popular resource for information about pollution problems and toxic chemicals. Find out about the pollution problems in your community and learn who is responsible. See which geographic areas and companies have the worst pollution records. Identify which racial/ethnic and income groups bear more than their share of environmental burdens. Then take action as an informed citizen - you can fax a polluting company, contact your elected representatives, or get involved in your community. "Brownfield
  • Toxics Targeting "Now you can instantly check for hidden environmental hazards before buying a home or property in New York State. Toxics Targeting's Free Internet Map identifies more than 270,000 abandoned landfills, industrial dumps, leaking tanks and other reported pollution threats "
  • Find out what environmental issues there are in your area: Check out this easy to use database from the EPA and locate various environmental issues near your home.   EnviroMapper for Envirofacts | US EPA "Welcome to EnviroMapper for Envirofacts, a single point of access to select U.S. EPA environmental data. This Web site provides access to several EPA databases to provide you with information about environmental activities that may affect air, water, and land anywhere in the United States. With Envirofacts, you can learn more about these environmental activities in your area or you can generate maps of environmental information. "  --from US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Where are those Brownfields in our area and are they getting cleaned up?  Start your search here: Cleanups in My Community Use Cleanups in My Community to map and list areas where pollution is being or has been cleaned up throughout the United States. Find your community and drill down to cleanup specifics about: Sites, facilities and properties under EPA's SuperfundRCRA and/or Brownfields cleanup programs. Federal facilities under EPA's Superfund and/or RCRA cleanup programs. You can also add tribal lands, Brownfields grant areas and water monitoring stations to your map, and drill down to further information about grants and water quality." from US Environmental Protection Agency

Preventing Brownfields

Sites that describe regulations and offer solution to the proper these online environmental search engines to locate pollution near your home.

  • "CleanSweepNY is an Environmental Benefit Project which was initiated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Bureau of Pesticide Management and it describes in one word an effort to safely and economically dispose of canceled, unwanted, unusable, or otherwise obsolete pesticides and other chemicals from agricultural or non-agricultural business activities. CleanSweepNY also provides for the disposal of elemental mercury, mercury containing devices such as thermometers, manometers, etc... from schools and other entities.  "
  • Waste | Region 2 | US EPA The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C establishes a federal program to manage hazardous wastes from cradle to grave. The objective of the Subtitle C program is to ensure that hazardous waste is handled in a manner that protects human health and the environment. To this end, there are Subtitle C regulations for the generation; transportation; and treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous wastes. In practical terms, this means regulating a large number of hazardous waste handlers.
  • Chemical & Pollution Control - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation This website tells how New York State controls chemicals and pollutants, and how spills and hazardous waste sites are cleaned up
  • Brownfields Economic Development Initiative - CPD - HUD The Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) is a key competitive grant program that HUD administers to stimulate and promote economic and community development. BEDI is designed to assist cities with the redevelopment of abandoned, idled and underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion and redevelopment is burdened by real or potential environmental contamination.
  • Center For Public Environmental Oversight The Center for Public Environmental Oversight (CPEO) promotes and facilitates public participation in the oversight of environmental activities at federal facilities, private "Superfund" sites, and Brownfields.
  • The National Brownfield Associations, headquartered in Chicago, is a non-profit, member-based organization consisting of NBA U.S.A. and NBA Canada.  It is the only non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development and encouraging green building on brownfield sites. The NBA is the premier association for government, businesses and individuals involved in the redevelopment of brownfields and the only group that represents the wide range of public and private sector brownfield stakeholders, among them, property owners, developers, investors, service professionals and elected officials. Its mission is carried out through three primary conduits: information, education and events. NBA is the “go-to” organization for information on the brownfield market, keeping its members up to date on market trends, redevelopment opportunities, and changes in policy and legislation.
  • The NICOLE Website NICOLE is a leading forum on contaminated land management in Europe, promoting co-operation between industry, academia and service providers on the development and application of sustainable technologies.

Diaz Chemical Holley, NY "The five acre Diaz Chemical site was initially used as an industrial plant in the 1890s. In 1974,the property was purchased by Diaz Chemical Corporation, a manufacturer of specialty organic intermediates for a variety of industries. The nearest municipal drinking water supply well is located two-thirds of a mile south of the site. The Diaz Chemical facility's long history of spills, releases and discharges to the environment began in 1975. An investigation of the site from 1994 to 1999, led by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, revealed contamination with volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Following an accidental release of 75 gallons of a chemical mixture in January 2002, members of the public complained of acute health effects. As a result of the release, residents voluntarily relocated from some of the homes in the neighborhood to area hotels with assistance from Diaz Chemical. In March 2002, the State of New York obtained a court order requiring Diaz Chemical to continue to fund the relocations. On May 16,2002, EPA assumed responsibility for the relocation expenses of the residents who remained relocated at that time, secured the site, and removed contaminated materials. In June 2003, Diaz Chemical filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the facility, leaving behind large volumes of chemicals in drums and tanks." EPA Region 2

Restoring Urban Brownfields to Useable lands again

One of the worst aspects of brownfields is that once tainted a building site stays empty because no company wants to rebuild there.  But, that need not happen and our inner cities turn into vast chemical wastelands.  There are remediation programs out there to reclaim brownfields and make them both productive and environmentally friendly.

  • Civil and Environmental Engineering The WPBC facilitates the redevelopment of brownfields in Western Pennsylvania by acting as a regional resource for communities and small businesses to eliminate barriers for redeveloping idle sites into productive uses --from Carnegie Mellon University
  • Brownfields | US EPA Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.

Brownfield Resources

Information about Brownfields

  •  BROWNFIELD OPPORTUNITY AREAS A "brownfield" or "brownfield site" is defined in New York State Environmental Conservation Law Article 27, Title 14, as any real property, the redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a contaminant.  City of Rochester, NY
  • Existing Chemicals | OPPT | US EPA "EPA's existing chemicals programs address pollution prevention, risk assessment, hazard and exposure assessment and/or characterization, and risk management for chemicals substances in commercial use. The Agency uses statutory authorities, including the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), as well as voluntary activities in its implementation of these programs. " -from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Environmental Remediation 2008/2009 Annual Report - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is required to report annually on the significant progress made in pollution prevention and the cleanup of contaminated properties under New York State programs administered by the Division of Environmental Remediation (DER). This report specifically includes the State Superfund Program (SSF), Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), Environmental Restoration Program (ERP), Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program, Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), Spill Response Program and Bulk Storage Programs. This report summarizes program accomplishments and performance statistics for the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2008/09 (April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009) and satisfies the reporting requirements of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law. --New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Center for Health, Environment & Justice "is a national, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that provides organizing and technical assistance to grassroots community groups in the environmental health and justice movement. The Center was founded in 1981 by Lois Gibbs, who helped win the relocation of over 900 families from their neighborhood which was contaminated by chemicals leaking from the Love Canal landfill in Niagara Falls, NY. Through this effort, Gibbs and her neighbors woke up the nation to recognize the link between people’s exposures to dangerous chemicals in their community and serious public health impacts."

Love Canal

Find out about the most notorious Brownfield in the United States -- not far from Rochester 

  • Love Canal The NYSDOH follow-up health study examines long-term health effects among Love Canal residents. This study compares the health of Canal residents with the health of those who did not live near Love Canal. It also compares Canal residents to each other based upon their likelihood of exposure to chemicals from Love Canal. Newsletters keep participants and other interested persons informed about the study's progress. -- New York State Department of Health
  • Environmental Protection Agency The fenced 70acre Love Canal site (Site) encompasses the original 16acre hazardous waste landfill and a 40-acre clay/synthetic liner cap. Also, a barrier drainage system and leachate collection and treatment system is in place and operating. The Site includes the "original" canal that was excavated by Mr. William T. Love in the 1890's for a proposed hydroelectric power project but was never implemented. Beginning in 1942, the landfill was used by Hooker Chemicals and Plastics (now Occidental Chemical Corporation (OCC)) for the disposal of over 21,000 tons of various chemical wastes, including halogenated organics, pesticides, chlororbenzenes and dioxin. Dumping ceased in 1952, and, in 1953, the landfill was covered and deeded to the Niagara Falls Board of Education (NFBE).
  • Love Canal Collections - University at Buffalo Libraries "A new online resource on the Love Canal Collections in the University Archives is now available online. This resource includes links to the Love Canal collections finding aids, an image gallery, a clipping database, and an introduction to the history and background of the events that occurred at Love Canal. The basic portion of the Collection provides: Background information about the country's most notorious and infamous hazardous waste site. A chronological history of the Love Canal A glossary of definitions for the Love Canal Love Canal Collections includes special records and collections: ETF Records Ecumenical Task Force Records -- MS 65 -- includes scanned documents from the ETF collection Revitalization Agency Records Love Canal Area Revitalization Agency Records -- MS 74 Repository Grant Records Love Canal Repository Grant Records -- MS 89 Adeline Levine Research Materials Adeline Levine Love Canal Research Materials (part I) -- 22/3F/634 Adeline Levine Love Canal Research Materials (part II) -- 22/3F/1113 Additional Collections" - Frederick W. Stoss, M.S. (zool/ecol), M.L.S. Associate Librarian (Biological and Environmental Sciences and Mathematics) 228-B Capen Hall Science and Engineering Library Arts & Sciences Libraries University Libraries University at Buffalo--SUNY Buffalo, NY 14260-1672 
  • Love Canal Newslinks

    • RIT professor's new book revisits Love Canal A chain-link fence around 70 acres of land in the southern part of Niagara Falls is the most readily apparent sign that this was ground zero for the Love Canal environmental disaster. Underneath are about 22,000 tons of hazardous chemical waste, dumped there — much of it in 55-gallon drums — between 1942 and 1953 by the nearby Hooker Chemical Co. Rochester Institute of Technology history professor Richard Newman details this disaster — and the citizen movement it spawned — in his new book, Love Canal:  A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present, published by Oxford University Press (August 24, 2016) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [more on Love Canal in our area]
    • Love Canal Declared Clean, Ending Toxic Horror Two decades after Love Canal became the first polluted site on the newly created Superfund list, federal officials announced yesterday that the neighborhood that epitomized environmental horror in the late 1970's was clean enough to be taken off the list. Hundreds of families were evacuated from the working-class Love Canal section of Niagara Falls, N.Y., after deadly chemicals started oozing through the ground into basements and a school, burning children and pets and, according to experts, causing birth defects and miscarriages. The neighborhood had been built on a 19th-century canal where a toxic mix of more than 80 industrial chemicals had been buried. The removal of Love Canal from the Superfund list will be mostly symbolic. The cleanup at the toxic waste site, the nation's most notorious, took 21 years and cost close to $400 million, but most of the work was completed a few years ago. (March 19, 2004) The New York Times on the Web
    • The love never stops Twenty-five years ago, Western New York gave the world a new style of environmental campaign --- and a name that will live in infamy. "Love Canal was really a turning point in how people think about the environment," says Mike Schade, a Buffalo-based organizer with the Citizens Environmental Coalition, part of a coalition that sponsored commemorative events last week about toxic-waste problems lingering in the Buffalo-Niagara area. (August 7, 2003) City Newspaper
    • Democrat & Chronicle: Activist tours Love Canal 25 years later — NIAGARA FALLS — Twenty five years ago this month, the first of 800 families were relocated from Love Canal, the blue-collar neighborhood that has since become a global catchphrase for toxic-waste sites. “ A cry was heard around the world,” said Lois Gibbs, the one-time Love Canal homemaker who spurred an eventual $360 million clean up of the site. (August 1, 2003) Democrat and Chronicle
    •  ENN News Story - Toxic dump becomes home to new families NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Twenty-five years after its leaking poisons forced residents to flee, America's most notorious toxic dump, Love Canal, is home to families who moved into cleaned-up houses and toddlers who romp on land still too dangerous to build on. (July 24, 2003) Environmental News Network -