Environmental principal Lon Yandell recently attended the 2018 Oregon Brownfields Conference. We asked him to give us a little bit of background on the event and to share his takeaways:
For readers who haven’t attended before, what is the Oregon Brownfields Conference?
The Oregon Brownfields Conference is held every two years at different locations to provide a forum for stakeholders to learn about developing properties with known or suspected contamination issues. The conference lasts two days and includes multiple technical and informational sessions on all aspects of brownfields development, including assessment, cleanup, financing, and liability, with excellent case-studies to draw from. The conference also includes a pre-conference “Brownfields 101” Workshop for those interested in learning more about brownfield basics and financing options. This year’s conference had over 160 attendees, including cities, counties, health agencies, regulators, consultants, and other service providers.
What has your involvement been?
I have been involved in the conference as a planning committee member since the late 90’s and have contributed as a speaker, moderator, and session organizer.
What was your favorite session? Why?
I enjoyed the session on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) No Further Action letters and what they mean and don’t mean regarding future obligations. The discussion was lively. Many developers do not realize that there may still be much more work to be done and costs to be incurred due to environmental issues, even after a receipt of a No Further Action (NFA) letter from DEQ. For example, even with an NFA, soil management during construction may still be required, even if the soil is only slightly contaminated but does not meet the definition of “clean fill.” Depending on the nature of the contamination and how much soil is to be exported off site during development, this can be a significant construction cost that should be accounted for.
What were your takeaways from this experience?
The best part of the conference for me is the networking with other attendees and hearing their brownfield challenges and success stories. I am always impressed by the energy at the conference and the passion for brownfields development that so many of the attendees share. The interest in developing brownfields is still very high, and the success stories are often amazing in both the process and the final result.
For those interested, who would benefit most from attending?
I would definitely recommend this conference to anyone developing property, whether it is known to be contaminated or not. There are so many things to learn that can be applied to almost any development project, not just brownfields. So the biggest benefit is for those who are actually doing property development, whether it be privately or publicly funded projects. If you are buying or selling property, this is the conference to attend.