The Delaware Brownfields Program is now in its ninth year. There was a time in the past when current owners of property contaminated with hazardous substances could enter into the program and receive the liability protection and grant funding to carry on the investigation and cleanup. All that was necessary was for the owner to demonstrate to DNREC's satisfaction that they did not cause or contribute to the contamination. This was known as the "Brownfields VCP" option. Word spread fast, smart owners lined up, and quickly the funding provided to the Brownfields Program was depleted.
DNREC did not look favorably upon this turn of events. First, there was some internal debate as to whether current owners could actually qualify under the law to become recipients of Brownfields liability protection or grant funding. Secondly, the number of Brownfields VCP applicants overshadowed the intended Brownfields grant recipients (those applicants that could demonstrate that they were not now current or former owners/operators, among others). Had the number of Brownfields VCP applicants been less or the funding they absorbed been less, it is not inconceivable that the Brownfields VCP option might have continued. But alas, pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered, and the Brownfields VCP option was a hog.
Fast forward to today. Closing the Brownfields VCP option a few years ago, as well as making other changes to the eligibility rules, has resulted in an excess of Brownfields funding at the end of this grant year. This is a shame since there is no lack of worthy Brownfields sites or applicants, so DNREC is rebalancing the eligibility requirements. On deck for consideration is opening back up the Brownfields VCP option, but on a much more limited basis.