January 03, 2020

Brownfields Remediation in Massachusetts: Chapter 21E and the Massachusetts Contingency Plan

Andrew Fowler

This article gives a limited overview of Massachusetts’ hazardous waste cleanup law, known as Chapter 21E, with a particular focus on the Commonwealth’s many tools for facilitating brownfield redevelopment.


Brownfields redevelopment is strong in Massachusetts because of Chapter 21E, also known as the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act, the state’s analogue to the federal Superfund law (CERCLA). The scheme of Chapter 21E, originally enacted in 1983 and improved by the Brownfields Amendments in 1998, fosters redevelopment by, among other things: (1) privatizing the cleanup program; (2) allowing flexible remedial endpoints according to site-specific considerations; (3) accommodating construction during the pendency of remediation; and (4) creating qualified exemptions from liability for certain entities. Further help comes from other Commonwealth programs and policies discussed below. 

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