Senate Finally Passes Assembly’s Brownfield Bill

Job-creating measure will clean up sites like MacKenzie Chemical in Central Islip
September 16, 2003

Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) announced today that the state Senate has finally passed Assembly legislation agreed to at the end of the last session to clean up contaminated sites known as brownfields. The bill – endorsed by the Assembly, Senate and the governor – will help clean up unused industrial sites, refinance the state’s Superfund program, and revitalize local economies.

"Brownfields are holding back local economies across New York," Ramos said. "Once the governor signs this bill – and I urge him to do so quickly – we can finally get these toxic sites cleaned up and unused land back on the tax rolls."

The Assembly’s legislation (A.9120/S.5702) not only guarantees $120 million to the Superfund program, but also jump-starts the unused brownfield program in the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act to encourage localities to take advantage of nearly $170 million still unspent for brownfield remediation.

"In my community, the DEC has designated three Class 2 sites like the MacKenzie Chemical Company in Central Islip. These sites pose a significant threat to public health and the environment," Ramos said. "This measure removes that threat and helps distressed communities start planning for a better future."

The Assembly’s Brownfield Cleanup Program establishes the nation’s toughest cleanup standards and provides peace-of-mind to developers through a cleanup track system that fully protects public health and the environment. Developers are urged to create permanent remedies that do not require long-term maintenance or monitoring, and use of the restored land must be based on thorough analysis of future use.

More incentives for cleanup include:

  • $15 million for grants to help neighborhood planning and brownfield assessments;
  • $135 million in tax incentives to stimulate cleanup and reuse of sites, including the Environmental Zones program, which will offer tax incentives to develop areas with low incomes or high unemployment;
  • The granting of eligibility to hazardous substance sites under Superfund, which the Department of Environmental Conservation reports there are more than 274 of in New York; and
  • Funds to establish a Geographic Information System that would chart the state’s contaminated ground water and incorporate environmental data created from other remedial programs.

"Properties contaminated by hazardous waste and substances pose a threat to public health and the environment. This comprehensive measure will help clean up these sites, involve communities in the process, and provide financial incentives to return the sites to productive use," Ramos said. "The Senate made an error by not passing this months ago, but now that they have, New York can finally get these brownfields to bloom."