n. An abandoned or unused industrial site in an urban area, particularly one that is or was contaminated.
The emphasis of the federal program may need to be shifted slightly to enable the cleanup of hundreds of thousands of "brownfield" sites. Those areas are not as dangerously polluted as full-fledged Superfund sites and until recently have been brushed aside by the EPA as not of federal interest. Few have been cleared of contamination.
—“Needed: Superfund Cleanup,” Omaha World-Herald, November 26, 1999
U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson joined Daley and ComEd CEO John Rowe to announce the plan to turn one of Chicago's many contaminated industrial "brownfields" into what Richardson called "brightfields" that help clean up the environment.
—Fran Spielman, “Solar-energy era dawning for city, ComEd at ex-dump,” Chicago Sun-Times, August 05, 1999
1977 (earliest)
The new facility would be a brownfield expansion (addition to existing plant), producing about 1.2 million tons of iron.
—Fortune, January 1, January 01, 1977
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