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1. What is a brownfield?
A brownfield site means 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. It can include old factories, meth labs, mine-scarred lands, abandoned gas stations and former dry cleaning establishments.
2. How many brownfields are there in the Commonwealth of Kentucky?
While an exact number is unknown, it is estimated that there are about 8,000 brownfield sites in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
3. What steps should I take if I am considering purchasing a property that potentially has environmental contamination?
The first step is to hire an environmental professional to conduct all appropriate inquiries (see question 12) . This will begin the process of providing you with liability protection as a bona fide prospective purchaser. Many financial institutions will require the inquiry before lending money on a property. It will also identify what contamination may be present on the property. If All Appropriate Inquiries indicate possible contamination, the prospective purchase should have the environmental professional conduct sampling to confirm or deny the actual presence of contamination, its extent, the options for cleanup or management and the potential cost. Based on this information and the available incentives, the purchaser can then determine if he or she wishes to proceed with the project.
4. What is "all appropriate inquiries"?
All Appropriate Inquiries, also known as a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, refers to the requirements for assessing the environmental conditions of a property prior to purchase or acquisition for the purposes of establishing certain landowner liability protections. These landowner liability protections require that a person perform "all appropriate inquiries" into the previous ownership and uses of a property before acquiring title to the property.
On Nov. 1, 2006, the all appropriate inquiry final rule became effective. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established that the revised ASTM E1527-13 standard is consistent with the requirements of the final rule for all appropriate inquiries and may be used to comply with the provision of that rule.
In the case of a facility purchased for residential use by a person who is not a government or commercial entity, a facility inspection and a title search satisfy the appropriate inquiry requirement. For additional details, see the EPA Web page regarding all appropriate inquiries.
5. Are environmental consultants required to be licensed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky?
There are no current requirements for licensing environmental consultants in Kentucky. However, to qualify for liability protection as a bona fide prospective purchaser, a brownfield developer must conduct all appropriate inquiries as specified by the EPA. The rules for all appropriate inquiries specify educational and experience requirements for the environmental professional who performs or oversees the inquiry.
6. How can I find an environmental consultant?
We are unable to recommend consultants. The following sources are provided as a convenience. The appearance or absence of a consultant on either list should not be construed to reflect on the qualifications of the consultant. Use the same care to select the consultant as you would in hiring any professional. If you are seeking bona fide prospective purchaser liability protection, make sure that all appropriate inquiries will be conducted or overseen by an individual who meets the requirements of an environmental professional, as described in Question 5. The Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center maintains a list of consultants that can be sorted by the types of services provided. For brownfield work, the most relevant services are "Environmental Consulting or Eng" or "Site Remediation."
7. What cleanup tracks are available?
There are several cleanup options available. These differ in complexity, level of liability protection provided, degree of public involvement and who is eligible. Some incentives are also restricted to certain tracks.
8. What are Kentucky's cleanup standards?
Visit Kentucky's Voluntary Environmental Remediation Program home page to see the list of preliminary remediation goals and the guidance documents and how to apply them.
9. What are the options if contamination is found?
Kentucky Revised Statute 224.01-400 (18) provides four options:

1. Demonstrating that no action is necessary to protect human health, safety and the environment.

2. Managing the release in a manner that controls and minimizes the harmful effects of the release and protects human health, safety and the environment, provided that the management may include existing or proposed engineering or institutional controls and the maintenance of those controls.

3. Restoring the environment through the removal of the hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant, or

4. Any combination of paragraphs (1) to (3) of this subsection. Option 1 requires that a person demonstrate that contamination is below levels that pose unacceptable risks.
The preliminary remediation goals and associated guidance documents on Kentucky's Voluntary Environmental Remediation Web page provide guidance to establishing when Option 1 is acceptable.
Option 2 involves managing waste in place. This may involve engineering controls, such as installing and maintaining an asphalt cover over the contamination. There would generally be an institutional control placed on the deed to ensure that the engineering control is maintained. There may also be institutional controls to regulate activities on the property, such as a requirement that the property never be used for residential development or to prohibit the use of groundwater from below the property.
Option 3 involves removing or destroying the contamination. The contamination may be dug up and sent to a landfill designed to contain it. The contamination may also be destroyed on-site, through chemical, biological or other processes.
Option 4 involves some combination. Commonly, the person will remove the most contamination (Option 3) and then use engineering and/or institutional control (Option 2) to address the remaining contamination.
10. How can I obtain environmental records on a property in Kentucky?
State environmental records on individual properties can be found through an open records request, also known as a Freedom of Information Act Request or FOIA request. Information and instructions on how to make a request can be found at the Energy and Environment Open Records page.
11. Does Kentucky have a list of brownfield properties? 
Kentucky maintains a list of properties that have received assessments, cleanups or other governmental assistance, but it is not a comprehensive list of all of the brownfield properties in the state.  This Brownfield Inventory is available by making an Open Records Request​ to the Department for Environmental Protection​ File Room.  

If you are interested in finding a brownfield for redevelopment, the document "Finding, Purchasing and Redeveloping Brownfields in Kentucky" has helpful hints.  

If you are interested in knowing more about environmental cleanups in your community, the EPA maintains the "Cleanups in My Community" webpage that pulls from a variety of federal databases. 
12. How do I submit a property to the Kentucky Brownfield Inventory? 
To submit a property to the Kentucky Brownfield Inventory, first contact the state Brownfield Coordinator to discuss whether or not listing the property will be beneficial to the redevelopment of the property.  If it is, the Coordinator will work with you to document that the site qualifies.  Upon assembling the documents, the Coordinator will add the property to the inventory and will provide a letter certifying that the property is a brownfield. 
13. How can you obtain a listing of properties with institutional controls?
A list of properties with institutional controls can be obtained through an open records request to the Division of Waste Management file room.  IMPORTANT: The database from which the institutional control list is obtained is relatively new. It includes properties where environmental institutional controls were established after the database was activated. Older institutional controls are being added to the database as properties come up for review, but the database is not complete yet.
Individual properties should be researched at the Energy and Environment Open Records page and at the county clerk's office.
14. What financial incentives are available for brownfield cleanup?
There are incentives available at the local, state and federal levels.
The state offers free targeted brownfield assessments to municipalities, nonprofits and quasi-governmental agencies. There are state brownfield tax incentives as well as the Cleaner Commonwealth Fund.
The EPA makes grants available for municipalities and nonprofits that undertake a brownfield cleanup. Information on those grants can be found at the U.S. EPA Web site.
Other entities may be eligible for tax incentives and credits available through the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. For more details on tax incentives, go to the Economic Development Web site.
Check out our funding page for examples of available resources for the private, public and non profit sectors. You can also contact the Kentucky Brownfield Help Desk at 502-564-0323 or to discuss incentives for specific projects.
15. I am interested in developing a run-down property that isn't contaminated and is not a brownfield. Are there any resources available to me?
The Brownfield Program was developed to help with the cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties, but many resources identified on the Web page are available for other redevelopment projects. The proposed end use: commercial, residential, recreational and green space, is an important component in determining what incentives are available.
16. What liability protections are available to those who wish to purchase brownfield properties?
State and federal law provides protections for redevelopers who meet the criteria to be a bona fide prospective purchaser. To be a bona fide prospective purchaser, the following requirements must be met:
  • All disposal took place before the date of purchase.
  • The person made all appropriate inquiries.
  • The person exercises appropriate care with respect to a release.
  • The person provides full cooperation, assistance and access to persons authorized to undertake response actions or natural resource restoration.
  • The person complies with land use restrictions and does not impede performance of institutional controls.
  • The person complies with all informational requests.
  • The person provides all legally required notices regarding the release of hazardous substances.
  • The person is not potentially liable or affiliated with any other person potentially liable.

    For a detailed explanation of the Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser and other liability protections please consult the Brownfields and Land Revitalization Cleanup Enforcement webpage.

The state provides addditional certaining regarding state laws for purchasers who enter into the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment and Reuse Program.

17. Is public participation part of the brownfield redevelopment process?
Documents related to any cleanup are available for public view under provisions of Kentucky's Open Records Act.
For any proposed remedy that does not achieve the target risk levels at the point of exposure, the volunteer shall provide a public notice. The cabinet shall not receive public comments for 30 days following the publication of the notice. "Target risk level" means an excess cancer risk of one in one million carcinogenic endpoints and hazard index of 1.0 for noncancer endpoints.
All cleanups being conducted under the No Further Remediation Letter process (KRS 224.01-450 through 465) or Kentucky's Voluntary Environmental Remediation Process (KRS 224.1-510 through 532)include a public notice and public comment period.

As always, the staff remains available to give introductory presentation to the general public to answer questions by individuals.
18. Is there a mechanism in place where the public can voice concern if they feel that a brownfield could be affecting their community?
There are two ways in which an assessment of a brownfield may be requested:
  • Any person that is or may be affected by a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, contaminant or petroleum at a brownfield site may file a complaint to the Department for Environmental Protection. The complaint will be directed to the most appropriate branch within the Department for Environmental Protection.
  • The second option is for local government or qualified nonprofits to directly approach the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program to request assessment. The party completes an application. The Brownfield Program reviews all applications to determine if the property meets all requirements outlined in the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, and then prioritizes the requests for assessments based upon the potential threat to human health and the environment, the lack of a viable responsible party and the potential public benefit. Any proposed assessment is submitted to EPA Region IV for its review and comments prior to the start of assessment.

    The state works to ensure that small communities, as well as disenfranchised and communities of color surrounding or adjacent to brownfield properties, have substantive opportunities to receive technical assistance, including assessments and document reviews.
19. How do I contact the Kentucky Brownfield Help Desk? 
The Kentucky Brownfield Help Desk can be reached at or 502-564-0323. The help desk connects you with a brownfield team member who can provide information about financial resources and liability, help determine site status, find proper agency contacts for your brownfield project, serve as a liaison, ombudsman and interagency coordinator for your project, review and critique grants and answer general brownfield questions.
20. How much do the Brownfields Site Assessments usually cost?
A Phase I should cost $1,500 to $2,500 for an average property, $2,500 to $6,000 for a large complex property.
Phase II's will vary based on the specifics, but 75 percent will be less than $25,000.

21. ​I am reviewing an environmental document and want to know a good reference to help explain the technical terms and acronyms.

​The EPA has a webpage to assist with terms and acronyms.


​22. Why redevelop a brownfield?

​Redeveloping brownfields is good for the environment. It cleans up contaminated properties, helps preserve greenfields and reduces sprawl. But, they can also afford advantages for developers. 

  1. Brownfield properties often have existing infrastructure (utilities, roads, rail sidings, etc.) remaining from previous operations.
  2. Resistance from neighbors is less prevalent for cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields compared to construction on previously undeveloped fields or woodlands. Zoning issues are also less likely.
  3. Communities around brownfields may have available workforces due to the closing of previous operations. Local governments may be more supportive in order to replace the lost jobs.
  4. Some of these properties can be quite large, resulting in less difficulty in assembling adequate acreage.
  5. Environmental issues may limit possible uses for sites, enabling developers to obtain them for less than similar sized greenfield properties.
  6. Brownfield incentives are often available to combine with other incentives to help make the project successful. 
  7. Older buildings have history and character that can not easily be duplicated in new constructions. This can help with creating a brand identity for a business.
  8. Recycling brownfields is more sustainable than constructing on greenfields. For "green" companies, this is a very public demonstration of their commitment to operate in an environmentally responsible manner.

​23. What is the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program?

​"Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program is used to refer to two different things:

1) It is used to refer to the staff and resources Kentucky provides to assist with the assessment and safe redevelopment of brownfields in Kentucky.

2) It also refers to a law (KRS 224.1-415) and associated regulations that help reduce the uncertainty for brownfield redevelopers. This may also be called the Brownfield Redevelopment and Reuse Program. 


​24. What are the advantages of entering into the Kentucky Brownfield redevelopment and Reuse Program (KRS 224.1-415)?

​This program removes some of the uncertainty related to the purchase and/or redevelopment of brownfield properties for developers and lenders by:

  • Giving the qualifying person or entity a written determination that they will not be required to perform investigation and/or cleanup under the state Superfund statutes. 
  • giving the qualifying person or entity a written concurrence  for their proposed Property Management Plan. This concurrence eliminates uncertainty regarding whether or not the use and management of a contaminated property will be sufficiently protective.
  • Providing provisions to change the Property Management Plan, with Cabinet approval, if the use of the property changes.  This ensures that management of the property remains protective even if the use is changed.  

Details about the eligibility requirements for the program and a description of the process can be found on the Redevelopment and Reuse Program page.   


25. ​My company does environmental work. I would do some brownfield assessment and cleanup work for the state. How can I get a contract?

​At times the state hires contractors to do environmental work. Those contracts are established via competitive bid and master agreement processes through the Finance and Administration Cabinet. To find current Requests for Proposals and to be put on the mailing list for future proposals visit the Finance and Administration Cabinet eProcurement page

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