NJIT Helps Australia Develop Environmental Practices

NJIT TAB officials met with leaders fromThe Environment Protection Authority in Victoria, Australia.

Some of Australia’s top environmental leaders visited NJIT recently to learn how environmental experts here contend with contaminated sites known as brownfields.

The three leaders from The Environment Protection Authority in Victoria, Australia, visited NJIT’s Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program  (TAB), which serves as an independent resource to state, regional, local and tribal governments and non-profit groups (commonly referred to as communities) trying to clean up and reclaim brownfields. TAB is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) through a cooperative agreement with NJIT.

EPA Victoria is a regulatory authority that forms part of the Victorian state government’s environment unit; it is the second-oldest environmental agency of its kind in the world (behind the US EPA), and the three officials are on an ambassador tour of North America, learning best practices from environmental entities here.

Three TAB officials from NJIT (Colette Santasieri, Sean Vroom and Elizabeth Limbrick) spent an afternoon talking to the Australian officials about the services their program offers to 12 states, 10 tribal nations, and hundreds of communities across the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.

Colette Santasieri, TAB’s director, explained how the TAB program has helped more than 300 communities develop strategies for dealing with brownfields. The TAB team is comprised of planners, environmental scientists and engineers who help communities overcome their challenges in dealing with brownfields. The team helps in the identification, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields by providing technical advice, strategic planning and education. The overall goal for the team is to facilitate the redevelopment of brownfield sites, which then have positive land uses and contribute to the communities.    

During the afternoon meeting, Lana Kovac, a leader in EPA Victoria’s Policy and Regulation Unit, said that for several  months she researched groups in North America who are involved in brownfields clean up and redevelopment.

“NJIT’s TAB topped our list of best practices,” said Kovac. “Your website was one of the best we viewed and is extremely helpful to us in our efforts to learn about all aspects of brownfields.”

Sarah Stephen, senior manager of environment reform policy for the Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries, was interested in learning how NJIT TAB translates technical issues and regulatory requirements into easily understandable formats for communities.   

Cheryl Batagol, who is the Chairman of EPA Victoria with 40 years of environmental experience, was also impressed by NJIT TAB.

“We came to NJIT to visit your TAB program because you have this marvelous ability to simply and clearly communicate to communities the issues surrounding brownfields,” said Batagol. “We are very impressed with the breadth of the work you do; your best environmental practices; and the model you created for providing assistance to communities. That will be of immense help to us in formulating best practices governing brownfields in Australia.”   

For more information regarding NJIT TAB, contact Dr. Colette Santasieri: (973) 642-4165 or santasieri@njit.edu

(By Robert Florida)