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Environmental Protection Agency to assess potentially contaminated sites in Suffolk County
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will assess four potentially contaminated properties in Suffolk County, part of a local program to return dilapidated sites to the tax rolls.
County officials Monday announced that the four sites -- three in Islip, one in Babylon -- would be inspected by the EPA to determine cleanup options and identify redevelopment possibilities. The environmental assessments, costing $100,000 each, will be funded by the federal government, at no cost to Suffolk, officials said.
The county received approval from the state early this year to form its first-ever land bank corporation. Land-bank status improves chances of selling brownfields, such as old auto repair shops and gas stations, for which the county has liens for back taxes but doesn’t own.
A nonprofit land bank corporation could take title to tainted parcels, clean, sell and return them to the tax rolls.
The county has historically been unwilling to take title to these sites because it can’t afford the potential cleanup liability.
Officials estimate there are nearly 150 tax-delinquent, polluted parcels that would qualify for land-bank status. The four sites that the EPA will assess (one has been in tax arrears since 1991) will be among the first considered for potential inclusion in the program.
“This partnership allows us to take an important first step to redevelop abandoned and polluted brownfield properties that are blights on our local communities,” said County Executive Steve Bellone.
County leaders also said Monday that they will apply for a $1.25 million state grant that would allow further environmental assessments meant to grow the land bank program.