New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation implements a very successful plan called the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). It is designed to remediate lands that are in need of reclamation and renewal due to varying types of pollutants.
To date, over 190 sites have benefited. Many of these plots are relatively small, such as abandoned gas stations, dry cleaners or other sites that have dangerous and deadly chemicals that exceed environmental standards.
A company or business applies for BCP tax credits. In return for rehabilitating the area in question, the company is able to earn tax credits to cover the incurred costs. The tax credits are transferable to accommodate a new owner if need be.
Accountability is maintained and the land, depending on many variables, can be designated for a new business, light industry, passive recreation and sometimes residential.
Much of the redevelopment in Western New York contributing to Buffalo’s renaissance utilizes this mechanism. The key point to any site cleanup is the level of contamination.
In contrast, Tonawanda Coke’s lethal toxicity should not qualify for BCP. Sites quantified as Class 1 or 2 on the National Priorities List (NPL), which present imminent dangerous conditions and health concerns, are not eligible for the BCP. These are the worst of the worst.
In federal court we have heard testimony from experts, workers and residents about the devastating ramifications of the immoral and illegal practices at Tonawanda Coke. Alarming health concerns abound.
Although a full assessment is still in process, the EPA, the lead agency at Tonawanda Coke, should designate it as a candidate for the NPL, and thus utilize federal Superfund monies. A Google Earth’s view of Tonawanda Coke illustrates it “ain’t no gas station.”
Gary M. Schulenberg
Member of the Clean Air Coalition