Department of Environmental Conservation

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Voluntary Cleanup Program

On October 7, 2003, legislation was signed to create a new Brownfield Cleanup Program ("BCP"), modeled after the Department's existing administrative Voluntary Cleanup Program ("VCP"). Applications are no longer being accepted for participation in the VCP. For information on applying to the BCP, go to the Brownfield Cleanup Program page.

What is the Voluntary Cleanup Program?

New York established its Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) to address the environmental, legal and financial barriers that often hinder the redevelopment and reuse of contaminated properties. The Voluntary Cleanup Program was developed to enhance private sector cleanup of brownfields by enabling parties to remediate sites using private rather than public funds and to reduce the development pressures on "greenfield" sites.

Resources Available for Community Redevelopment

New York's Voluntary Cleanup Program is a cooperative approach among the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Department), lenders, developers and prospective purchasers to investigate and/or remediate contaminated sites and return these sites to productive use. Under the Voluntary Cleanup Program, a volunteer performs remedial activities pursuant to one or more Department approved work plans. The volunteer agrees to remediate the site to a level which is protective of public health and the environment for the present or intended use of the property. Investigation and remediation is carried out under the oversight of the Department and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the volunteer pays the State's oversight costs. When the volunteer completes work, a release from liability from the Department is provided with standard reservations.

Liability Release

  • Once the required remedial actions have been completed, the Department issues a letter declaring that the Department agrees that the volunteer has met their obligations and that, barring an event triggering a reopener, the Department does not contemplate further action will need to be taken at the site.
  • Non-PRP volunteers also receive a release that covers natural resource damages.
  • All of the volunteer's successors and assigns (except the site's PRPs) benefit from the release given to the volunteer.
  • The Department's release binds only itself, and does not bind private parties harmed, does not bind the State's Attorney General, the State's Comptroller, and does not bind the USEPA.


The Release is subject to the following reservations for further investigation or remediation the Department deems necessary due to:

  • Off-site migration of petroleum (and other contamination causing significant impacts if the Volunteer is a PRP);
  • Environmental conditions or information related to the Site that were unknown when the Release was issued and that indicate that site conditions under the Contemplated Use are not sufficiently protective of human health and the environment;
  • Failure to comply with the VCA (e.g., not completing OM&M, not paying State costs, not maintaining use restrictions, etc.);
  • Fraud committed by the Volunteer in entering into or implementing the VCA;
  • A release, discharge or threat thereof after the effective date of the VCA; or
  • A change of use where the new use requires a lower level of residual contamination.

How to Apply

Applications for the VCP are no longer being accepted. Please go to the Brownfield Cleanup Program page for more information.

For further information please contact

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7012
(518) 402-9764