Our rich industrial history in Massachusetts has, unfortunately, left a legacy of contamination and abandoned or underutilized properties. These brownfields present challenges to our economy and risks to our health. They have historically been stigmatized by high costs of cleanup and lingering liability concerns. Now, they present some of the most exciting and wide-ranging opportunities for development.

Contaminated former industrial land located next to a residential neighborhood in Lawrence.
Before: Contaminated former industrial land located next to a residential neighborhood in Lawrence.

Today this land is home to recreation areas, a playground and a community garden, collectively known as Nina Scarito Park.
After: Today this land is home to recreation areas, a playground and a community garden, collectively known as Nina Scarito Park.

Brownfields and Chapter 21E

Under Massachusetts law, M.G.L. c. 21E is the statute that governs the cleanup of releases of oil and/or hazardous material to the environment. The Brownfields Act of 1998 amended M.G.L. c. 21E by establishing significant liability relief and financial incentives to spur the redevelopment of brownfields, while ensuring that the Commonwealth's environmental standards are met. Most brownfields are redeveloped with the benefit of liability protections that operate automatically under M.G.L. c. 21E.

M.G.L. c. 21E provides the Attorney General's Office with the authority to enter into Brownfields Covenant Not to Sue Agreements for the sites not addressed by the automatic liability protections. In exchange for a commitment to clean up a site and to undertake a project that contributes to the economic or physical revitalization of the community, we can provide individually-tailored liability relief to property owners and developers at the most difficult sites.

For More Information

For further information on the Brownfields Covenant Program, please contact John Beling, Brownfields Unit Chief, at (617) 727-2200, ext. 2423, or email at John.Beling@state.ma.us.

The Attorney General's Office works closely with other Commonwealth and federal agencies involved in the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields. For a list of funding and technical assistance programs that may be helpful to property owners, developers, and communities, visit the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) website.