Brownfield Newsletter

Revitalizing Communities through the Recycling of Contaminated Properties

Vol. 13-1 ~ Winter 2013


John B. Carnahan
Brownfield Coordinator

Sonja L. Benson
Brownfield Program Specialist

Melinda S. Brunner
Brownfield Program Specialist

Contaminated Sites Program
Division of Spill Prevention and Response
610 University Avenue
Fairbanks, Alaska 99709
Phone: (907) 451-2156
Facsimile: (907) 451-2155


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Welcome to the Winter 2013 edition of the DEC Brownfield Bulletin!

We are very excited to have a story from guest contributor Caleb Aronson of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, describing that program’s successful brownfield cleanup done in Hughes in 2012.  DEC was pleased to play a role in making that cleanup a success, and believes the project is an excellent example of how coordination and pooling of resources can make things happen.

In December we hosted our 5th Annual State & Tribal Response Program Brownfield Workshop here in Fairbanks. The conference was attended by 16 of the 22 active Alaska Tribal Response Programs (TRPs), all of whom contributed to the success of this once-yearly opportunity to focus on our common challenges and interests, and to strengthen partnerships among the Alaska TRPs.

Our annual request period for DEC Brownfield Assessments and Cleanups (DBACs) is now open. We’ll discuss in this issue what we look for when we are ranking and selecting the projects for our next fiscal year of funding.

A recent revision of the Brownfield Roadmap, developed by the Brownfields and Land Revitalization Technology Support Center, is a great interactive tool for exploring and better understanding the steps involved in bringing a scary brownfield to a new life as a community asset. We’ll take a look at this roadmap and provide links to it and related documents for your own exploration.

DEC’s Contaminated Sites Program (CSP) Database is an important tool for finding information online about contaminated sites in your community. For those developing Brownfield site inventories, the CSP Database should definitely be your first stop.

November saw us at the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management (ATCEM), helping facilitate a Brownfield educational track, with sessions over two days including information on environmental site assessment, development of conceptual site models, background on EPA and DEC brownfield programs, a session with three of Alaska’s Tribal Response Programs, some case studies of actual Alaskan brownfield assessments and cleanups, and even a game of Brownfield Bingo!  

Don’t miss this year’s Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE), coming up next month, and be sure to mark your calendars for Brownfields 2013, the biggest brownfield event in the country, taking place in May in Atlanta, Georgia. 

We hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and, as always, keep in touch.

Best regards,

Sonja Benson
Brownfield Program Specialist

In this issue:

The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council’s Brownfield Tribal Response Program Partners with DEC and Completes its First Pilot Cleanup Project

For years, the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) Brownfields Program has been inventorying and cataloguing many suspected and known contaminated sites throughout the Yukon River Watershed. These sites are known as brownfields.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), brownfields are defined as “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.” The YRITWC Brownfields Program has conducted more than a dozen Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and inventoried over 250 potential brownfield sites. This is all thanks to the Brownfields Tribal Response Program funding of the EPA.  And in 2012, after years of building capacity, for the first time the YRITWC Brownfields Program was able to see that funding go even further in a pilot project aimed at partially cleaning up petroleum contaminated soil in Hughes, Alaska.

Workers compact clean fill where contaminated soil was removed from the site of the former generator building in Hughes, Alaska.

In 2010, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the YRITWC Brownfields Program asked each other if there was any way to combine resources to finally address a cleanup in the Yukon River watershed.  The answer was yes and it was decided that we would focus on a property where both DEC and YRITWC had conducted assessment work in the past.  After weighing the cost scenarios, and the readiness of communities and potential sites, it was decided that we could pool our resources on the Old School Tank Farm and Abandoned Generator Site located in the center of the community of Hughes. This site previously received an ESA in 2008 through the YRITWC and an Environmental Management Plan in 2009 through the DEC.  And because the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) was planning to install a 40,000-gallon water storage tank within the proposed cleanup area, the reuse goal was clear: mitigate the exposure pathways by removing as much of the petroleum contaminated soil as possible and replacing it with clean fill in time for ANTHC to install the water storage tank.  With the community’s support, an Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) was drafted to discuss the different cleanup strategies, lay out cost estimates, and prioritize the best approach for cleanup.  Of the five alternatives defined in the ABCA, the one that Hughes, DEC, and YRITWC decided was the best approach – given the limited funding – was to prioritize the excavation and off-site treatment of soil.  Treating the soil would involve building a containment cell away from the community and periodically tilling the soil to enhance degradation of the contaminants in the summer, and covering it with polyethylene sheeting in the winter to reduce exposure to water entering the cell and to increase solar heating.  So, in 2012, the YRITWC Brownfields Program contracted site-specific cleanup services, and in August and September removed a total of 340 cubic yards of petroleum hydrocarbon-impacted soil located in the heart of the community.

Although this was a partial, prioritized cleanup, a little bit of soil removal went a long way to minimize the exposure to contaminants and make way for the new water storage tank for the community.  In addition, it was estimated that 90 percent of the funding for this project went into the community of Hughes by hiring local equipment, operators, and laborers, making the first ever YRITWC Brownfields Tribal Response Program funded cleanup of property within the Yukon River Watershed a success for all those involved.

Caleb Aronson
Brownfield Tribal Response Program Coordinator
Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council

Alaska State and Tribal Response Program Brownfields Workshop: Gathered Attendees Share Knowledge

The 5th Annual Alaska State & Tribal Response Program (STRP) Workshop was hosted by the DEC R&R Program, on December 11-12, 2012, in Fairbanks, Alaska. The workshop brought together representatives from 16 Alaskan tribal response programs (TRPs), DEC’s state response program, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Workshop attendees enjoyed a mix of presentations and small group exercises on topics that included funding for brownfield assessments and cleanups, planning for staff transitions, environmental compliance and enforcement, and environmental justice. This annual workshop is a valuable venue for Alaskan TRPs to network, share information, and discuss challenges that are unique to Alaskan brownfield projects, such as work in rural locations with no road access and short field seasons.

We are thankful to all of the attendees for carving time out of their busy schedules to come to Fairbanks and share their brownfields knowledge with others working in the field.  We are looking forward to next year’s workshop!

Photo of many of the attendees at the 5th Annual Alaska STRP Brownfields Workshop – still smiling after two days of learning!

Melinda Brunner
Environmental Program Specialist

DEC Brownfield Assessments and Cleanups—Request Period is Open Now!

Our request period for DEC Brownfield Assessments and Cleanups (DBACs) is now open, with a deadline of February 28, 2013. Each year we solicit requests for Brownfield projects for which we can use our State & Tribal Response Program (STRP) funding from EPA. Our funding varies slightly from year to year, but usually we are able to fund four or more assessments or, in 2011, one strong cleanup project. We have written about some of our projects in past issues, such as the summer 2012 edition’s story about an assessment in Buckland that helped keep a new pilot housing project on track. What do we look for in a DBAC request? For a successful Brownfield project, the first important component is in the definition of a brownfield: basically, a site that is prevented from a desired reuse or expanded use because the site is known or perceived to be contaminated with petroleum or a hazardous substance. The second component we look for is a well thought-out plan for the reuse or redevelopment, including documented applications for grants or other funding sources for various project elements, such as cleanup or the redevelopment itself (new construction, greenhouse materials, playground equipment, etc.). Strong community planning and support, with a committed team of community members, are critical to a successful brownfield revitalization project. Because of our funding limitations, we prioritize those projects that look like they have the best chances for success.

So, to summarize, the elements we look for in a DBAC request are the following:
1) A site that is known or perceived to be contaminated, and where the condition of the site is preventing its reuse, redevelopment, or enhanced use,
2) Evidence of applications or proposals for funding for other project elements,
3) Strong community planning efforts and community support, and
4) A committed project team.

Sonja Benson
Environmental Program Specialist

Brownfield Roadmap: A Great Tool for Charting Your Course to Reuse

One goal of our Reuse & Redevelopment (R&R) Program is to help individuals better understand the various elements of the brownfield process so they are better prepared to address brownfields in their own communities. Part of this education builds on the knowledge base for the assessment and cleanup process. The newly released Brownfields Road Map publication and companion website together provide an excellent tool for learning how brownfields sites may be assessed and cleaned up, while introducing the reader to a range of technology options and resources.

General concepts and basic considerations that affect the cleanup of brownfield sites are described with a new “Back to Basics” approach that covers planning and setting reuse goals, understanding regulations and liability concerns, engaging the community, and identifying funding. This latest (5th) edition of the Road Map uses a more streamlined publication than previous versions; however, the real meat of the tool is in the website, which complements the publication by providing supplemental information about emerging best practices, processes and initiatives that influence the consideration and use of innovative technologies.

Ignacio Dayrit, with the Center for Creative Land Recycling, contributed to the development of the Road Map. Ignacio has worked with our R&R Program on various brownfield projects over the years, and he writes:

“The Brownfields Road Map is a good reference for assessing and cleaning up brownfields sites, including a range of technology options, available resources and useful links, particularly from a Federal viewpoint. It is best to also keep your local and state conditions in mind.”

Targeted for non-technical stakeholders and technical professionals, the tool provides an excellent opportunity for any individual to self-educate on topics of importance to brownfields, contaminants and technologies, site remediation, as well as links to additional information and educational resources. The website also provides a link to useful acronyms and a glossary only a click away. View or download at

Brownfields Road Map to Understanding Options for Site Investigation and Cleanup, Fifth Edition (EPA 542-R-12-001).

John Carnahan
Brownfield Coordinator

The DEC Contaminated Sites Program Database: Make it Your First Stop When Researching Alaskan Brownfields

Are you wondering if that abandoned tank farm in the middle of your community is contaminated?  Or maybe you’re asking yourself if that undeveloped lot full of trash is really ok for kids to be playing in?  One of your first stops when trying to determine if a site is contaminated or suspected of being contaminated should be DEC’s Contaminated Sites Program (CSP) Database.  The database is found online at:

Below is a screen shot of the front page of the database. This application has multiple search options, and two of the easiest are to search by “City” or “Street Address.” Please see the red arrows, below, that highlight those two search options. Once you’ve added your search term, all you have to do is press the “Search Records” button, and a list of sites meeting your criteria will be provided.

The screen shot below shows the search results when “Clam Gulch” was chosen as the search term in the “City” field.  The user could then click on any of the page icons in the “Closure Details” or “Cleanup Chronology” columns to learn more specifics about each site.


The DEC CSP Database is one of the largest and most easily accessed collections of information on contaminated sites in Alaska.  Please consider using this tool the next time you’re wondering about a possible brownfield in your community. 

Melinda Brunner
Environmental Program Specialist

Brownfield Calendar

Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE)

          When: February 4-8, 2013
          Where: Dena’ina Convention Center, Anchorage, Alaska
Yes, it’s already that time again. The Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE) is scheduled for February 4-8, 2013. This year’s AFE will be offering increased focus on marine debris, tsunami impacts, and environmental regulatory compliance. With an increased number of Keynote events, the 2013 AFE promises to be a “must go” conference!
For more information and to keep up with developments, bookmark this site:

Oil Spill Response Training
          When: May 7-9, 2013
          Where: Glennallen, Alaska
This training is being hosted by the Copper River Native Association’s Brownfield Tribal Response Program. For more information please contact Jimmy Anderson, Tribal Response Program coordinator for CRNA, at (907) 822-5242, or Jennifer Williams of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals at Northern Arizona University, at (907) 250-3826.

Brownfields 2013 Conference

          When: May 15-17, 2013
          Where: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Save the date!  This event isn’t until spring, but it’s important to start planning now. This is the largest and most comprehensive event in the U.S. that focuses on the assessment, cleanup and revitalization of brownfields.
For more information, and to register, visit

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Once you sign up, an email will be sent to your email address and you simply need to hit reply and send—that’s it! Please forward any information you receive from our list-serve to anyone you think would be interested, and please send us any announcements that may be pertinent, and we will forward them to the brownfield community that has developed across Alaska. Thanks!

This DEC R&R Brownfield Bulletin is meant as a simple means to disseminate news across the state to those interested in brownfield developments. Please forward this to anyone you believe would be interested. If you have information or stories that you would like to submit, please send them to us and we will incorporate them on your behalf. If you would like to have your name removed from this distribution, simply email us and it will be done!