Skip to main content

Brownfields Resources for Citizens

Click here the image below (left) or this link for the Vermont Brownfields Handbook (updated March 2023). Click the image below (right) or this link for the Brownfields Education and Outreach Presentation

Brownfields Handbook 2023 cover

Quick Links (Under Construction)



Conduct a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) evaluates the potential for contamination to be present on a property. Phase I ESAs are conducted to satisfy the federal All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) requirements and Vermont Innocent Current Landowner defenses and must be conducted in accordance with the standard practices issued by ASTM International, currently ASTM E1527-13. Phase I ESAs generally consist of the following main components:

  • A records review. Intended to encompass both current and historical documents pertaining to the property, the records review should identify possible sources of contamination originating from both on and off-site activities. It is especially critical that this review covers documents from the entirety of the historical record for the property, and when possible should include Town Land Records, Manning’s City Directories, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, and other relevant historic documents. The VT ANR Natural Resources Atlas online mapping tool is also an important resource. More information on how to utilize these resources is included later in this document.
  • Site reconnaissance. A visual inspection of both the interior and the exterior of the subject property, conducted by an environmental professional. In particular, the presence of any hazardous materials, underground and aboveground storage tanks, stains, stressed vegetation, odors, sumps and floor drains, heating and cooling systems, and electrical transformers will be noted. General conditions of the site and surrounding properties, including the presence of surface water bodies and other geographic features may be noted as well.
  • Interviews. At least one individual who is knowledgeable about the property, as well as relevant state and local regulatory officials, are interviewed regarding the site history.

Based on the results of the records review, site reconnaissance, and interviews, a series of Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) will likely be identified.

ASTM E1527 defines a REC as “the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products on a property under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release, or a material threat of a release of any hazardous substances of petroleum products into structures on the property or into the ground, groundwater, or surface water of the property”.

The ASTM standard further specifies that “the term includes hazardous substances or petroleum products even under conditions in compliance with laws. The term is not intended to include de minimus conditions that generally do not present a threat to human health or the environment and that generally would not be the subject of an enforcement action if brought to the attention of appropriate governmental agencies. Conditions determined to be de minimus are not recognized environmental conditions.” The final Phase I ESA report will include recommendations regarding the steps, if any, that must be taken to address the RECs identified during the course of the Phase I ESA. This information, should help assist you in determining your level of comfort moving forward with a redevelopment project on a property.

Once a Phase I ESA has been conducted for the property in question, a copy of the report should be submitted to the VT DEC Sites Management Section for review. VT DEC will help you evaluate your Phase I ESA to ensure that it meets the current ASTM standards and will therefore be a suitable prerequisite for certain liability protections and forms of funding assistance. VT DEC will also evaluate the recommendations presented by your qualified environmental professional and discuss next steps.


Conduct a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment

The purpose of a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is to assess the degree and extent of contamination, or lack thereof, on a site. Phase II ESA’s will vary by site and the RECs identified during the Phase I ESA. Samples will be collected from potentially contaminated media and submitted for laboratory analysis to confirm the presence of hazardous materials. Materials that are commonly sampled during the course of a Phase II ESA include the following:

  • Surficial and subsurface soils
  • Shallow or deep soil gas
  • Indoor air
  • Surface water and sediments
  • Groundwater
  • Sediments in dry wells, floor drains,
    and catch basins

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list.



Corrective Action and Redevelopment Planning

Once the degree, and extent of contamination has been defined for a property, it is time to evaluate remedial options. If the results of your Phase II indicate that a corrective action is necessary, you must develop a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) in accordance with the IRule. This is also the time to consider how remedial options will best fit your redevelopment plan.

The goals of corrective action are to prevent and eliminate unacceptable risk to human health and the environment caused by the release of hazardous materials into the environment. The most common types of corrective action are remediation by removal of contaminated soil, groundwater remediation, or the mitigation of impacts to a receptor by implementing engineering controls such as covering the contaminated area with a geotextile fabric and clean soil cap. Remedial technologies can often be integrated with redevelopment features, so having a clear design plan and open communication between qualified environmental professionals, planners, and developers is essential. For example, it may be possible to incorporate design features such as parking lots and landscaping with soil capping requirements in contaminated areas.

Depending on the risk to receptors, the IRule may require an Evaluation of Corrective Action Alternatives (ECAA) to determine the most appropriate remedial technologies and methods to utilize in order to achieve the required level of site cleanup. An ECAA may include pilot-testing, additional sampling intended to address data gaps in the Phase II ESA, and a general review of all remedial options potentially capable of achieving comparable corrective action objectives. Prior to implementing an ECAA, a work plan must be submitted to VT DEC for review. As with the Phase II ESA, a QAPP must be submitted to the VT DEC and EPA if the ECAA will include sampling and will be conducted utilizing funds originating from the EPA. Additional information concerning ECAA can be found in Subchapter 5 §35-503 of the IRule. The ECAA document also satisfies the requirements of an EPA Alternatives Based Corrective Action (ABCA) document.

A Corrective Action Plan (CAP) must clearly communicate the basis and details of a proposed cleanup strategy to the VT DEC such that site managers can ensure technical feasibility of the plan, effective engineering design, reasonable cost, public participation, compliance with applicable standards, and protection of human health and the environment. Aside from initial work, a CAP must also include necessary system operations and maintenance of remedial systems, and any required pre- or post-implementation sampling. A full list of all required elements for a CAP can be found in Subchapter 5, §35-505 of the IRule.

Once a CAP has been submitted to VT DEC, it will be reviewed for completeness and content. Following the review and draft approval, a public comment period will be held for 30 days. Any person can request a public informational meeting within 14 days of the date of the notice. Any public comments will be considered prior to the final CAP approval. If EPA funds are being used to implement the CAP, a public relations plan and public meeting will also be required and should be coordinated with the public comment period.


Sites Management Activities Completed (SMAC) 

A Sites Management Activities Completed (SMAC) designation indicates that no additional work related to the identified release or releases is required at the time the designation is issued. Closure with a SMAC designation does not guarantee that a site will remain closed in light of a change in environmental media standards, identification of new or emerging contaminants of concern that require additional responses, or new information or a change in site conditions that demonstrates sensitive receptors are at risk from the release. A SMAC designation does not release the potentially responsible party or parties from any past or future liability associated with the release or releases identified as a part of the response, or from any contamination discovered after the site receives a SMAC designation. SMAC designations are granted for a specific release that has been assessed, and do not typically pertain to an entire property (see more information in Subchapter 7 of the IRule). A Certificate of Completion (COC) differs from a Sites Management Activities Completed (SMAC) designation, which is the typical form of site closure provided by VT DEC after all required activities are completed at a hazardous waste site.


Certificate of Completion (COC)

A Certificate of Completion (COC) is issued following the identification, characterization, and if necessary, remediation of all recognized environmental conditions under the state brownfield program (BRELLA) codified at 10 V.S.A §6641, or BRELLA. The COC is recorded in the land records of the property and may include land use restrictions.