Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

April 13, 2022

Sen. Hartley Leads Approval of Bill Supporting Clean Up of Contaminated Properties

State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury, Naugatuck, and Middlebury) led Senate approval of Senate Bill 102, which would provide for stronger coordination and review of updates to state regulations supporting revitalizing environmentally contaminated properties. Those regulations are meant to ease the process of remediation for blighted properties with potential commercial value, supporting renewed economic and community development. The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

“We have taken another step forward in finally moving away from the inefficient system under the Transfer Act and to a process that will spur the redevelopment of long-unused properties for economic development,” said Sen. Hartley. “It is vital that we don’t repeat mistakes of the past and ensure a new system for encouraging the cleanup of contaminated properties is straightforward from the start.”

Currently, Connecticut operates under the provisions of the Connecticut Property Transfer Act of 1985, which is a different system from a release-based one used in most other states in the nation. A release-based system places a focus on contamination that poses the greatest risk to the environment and creates a unified set of standards to direct clean ups of low-risk spills, according to the governor’s office.

The current Transfer Act system has been criticized by environmentalists and economic development stakeholders as ineffective in its goal of having property owners clean up hazardous materials from a property. Instead, it has resulted in owners abandoning those properties, which continue to hold hazardous materials. Only about a quarter of the estimated 4,200 properties in Connecticut under the Transfer Act have been cleaned up since the system’s enactment, the governor’s office reported in 2020.

Senate Bill 102 would direct the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to provide a draft of regulations implementing a release-based system in Connecticut to the full membership of the release-based program working group for review and feedback. The commissioner of DEEP would then put it up for consideration to be adopted into state regulations.

Eight subcommittees and three ad hoc groups have worked under the umbrella of the working group focusing on different sections of the regulation. The members of the working group expressed in testimony supporting Senate Bill 102 that the “silo” nature of the various subcommittees and ad hoc groups has raised a need for better coordination.

The chance for a review of the full drafted regulations would support the working group’s desire for improved collaboration and unified direction of the released-based system regulation.

The working group was established as part of 2020 legislation championed by Sen. Hartley that was approved to move Connecticut away from the Transfer Act to a released-based system.

Senate Bill 102 was supported by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and Connecticut REALTORS.