Saturday, May 18, 2013

EPA Announces Selected Recipients to Receive $62.5 Million to Clean Up Contaminated Sites, Protect Health and the Environment, and Revitalize Communities Nationwide

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 240 recipients recommended to receive $62.5 million in grants to protect people’s health and the environment in local communities. These new investments, funded by EPA’s Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (ARC) grants, provide communities with funding necessary to assess, cleanup and redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies and leverage jobs while protecting public health and the environment.

“Brownfields sites are community assets and a key component of the Obama Administration’s efforts to provide tools to sustainably revitalize communities and foster economic development,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Through these grant resources local communities can continue to assess, cleanup and redevelop properties to meet local needs for jobs, housing and recreation while protecting people’s health and the local environment.”

These Brownfields grants target under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed. Approximately $29.5 million are going to communities that have been impacted by auto plant closures. Other selected recipients include tribes and communities in 45 states across the country. Communities selected range in population from a few hundred, like City of St. Marks, Fla. to New York City, which is home to more than 8 million people. Specifically, 106 grants will support communities with populations greater than 100,000 and 134 grants will go to communities with fewer than 100,000 residents -- with 29 of these will go to communities of less than 10,000 people. Nearly half of the grantees this year are new recipients.

The InterRoyal Mill in Connecticut and a former Electroplater property in New York are just two examples of former industrial sites receiving assessment funding. In Rhode Island, cleanup funding will go toward cleaning up an abandoned former service station and other contaminated properties at the Uniroyal rubber plant site. Other types of sites selected for cleanup include a closed middle school, salvage yard, hospital and manufacturing properties. Future anticipated uses include neighborhood redevelopment, commercial revitalization, an arts center, business park, wellness center/clinic, community health center, theater, and office space.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated sites in the United States. More than 20,000 properties have been assessed, and more than 850 properties have been cleaned up through EPA’s Brownfields program. EPA’s Brownfields investments have also leveraged more than $19 billion in overall cleanup and redevelopment funding from public and private sources. On average $17.79 is leveraged for every EPA Brownfields grant dollar spent. These investments resulted in approximately 87,000 jobs nationwide. When Brownfields are addressed, nearby property values can increase 2-3 percent. A 2011 pilot study indicated Brownfields site redevelopment increases location efficiency, which means that residents live closer to where they work and play reducing their commute times and greenhouse gas emissions. EPA’s preliminary research has also shown that redeveloping Brownfield sites results in an efficient reuse of existing infrastructure and decreasing instances of stormwater runoff. These projects can have a positive impact on community revitalization by leveraging jobs, producing clean energy, and providing recreation opportunities for surrounding neighborhoods.