Brownfields Boom

by Monica Maldonado, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 5, Pg. 36-40

Document Type: Feature article


A brownfield is a leftover, unused industrial land parcel thought to have a prohibitively expensive clean-up required before developing. For years brownfields were battlefields for litigation and liability, with indecision and gridlock the result. Meanwhile, thousands of contaminated land parcels threaten the stability of communities across the country. Beyond the obvious health hazards these sites pose, brownfields can poison the communities surrounding them, both economically and socially. Unemployment, poverty, vandalism, and vagrancy are just the beginning of the resulting list of maladies that can kill a community. Though listing these contaminated sites was helpful, the responsibility of their clean-up lies mostly with local governments, which have a more vested economic and social interest in their redevelopment. The story goes on to describe these local clean-up programs.

Subject Headings: Brownfields | Soil pollution | Social factors | Public health and safety | Occupational safety | Economic factors | Pollution

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