The area can be put to other uses, if it is not too contaminated. If the soil and land around it is contaminated, specially certified contractors have to come in and do a clean-up job. Sometimes, clean up jobs can take millions of dollars. That is often why these old sites never are completely cleaned up. The power company can declare bankruptcy and leave the land to the government to deal with. With limited funds, maybe only parts of the site get cleaned, but without more areas cleaned it would be difficult to convince developers to come in and do something on the land.
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