EPA earmarks $250M for brownfields projects

EPA earmarks $250M for brownfields projects

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says $254 million will go toward 265 projects.

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May 13, 2022

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it has awarded $254.5 million in brownfields grants to 265 communities. The grants are supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA says, with that bill providing $1.5 billion to “spur economic revitalization” in part by “cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties.”

Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals, says the agency. Once cleaned up, former brownfield properties are intended for redevelopment.

“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan says. “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors.”

Sites on the project list include a former coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania, planned to become a 10-megawatt solar farm, and a former dumpsite in the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana also being redeveloped to become a solar farm.

The EPA’s 14-page list of grant recipients shows the majority simply described vaguely as “community-wide” funding recipients. A few others, though, show a connection to a former metals, paper or recycling industry location.

Millinocket, Maine, is receiving $850,000 to help dismantle and clean up a paper mill that operated there from 1899 to 2013. That mill produced newsprint and other paper grades under a roster of different ownership groups.

Also in Maine is a former auto salvage yard site in Rockland that will receive $500,000 in cleanup funding. The Shafter salvage business was operated by several generations of that family from 1914 through 2010.

A $500,000 grant is going toward cleanup at the former Reliance Battery plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa. An environmental services firm involved in that cleanup says the “the former Reliance Battery Factory in Council Bluffs was in operation from circa 1928 through 2019. The property [was] used for manufacturing, repairing, and reconditioning lead-acid batteries.”

The city of Peabody, Massachusetts, is receiving $650,000 to address cleanup issues at a former Clark Steel Drum property. That company refurbishes and replates steel storage containers.

Local media reports characterize the former Nearpara Rubber Co. facility in Hamilton, New Jersey, as having processed tires there for several decades. In 2001, after it had closed, the Trentonian describes crews hauling away some 80,000 “orphaned tires.” Now, 1 $500,000 EPA grant will go toward further cleaning up the site.

As Regan notes, a landfill or dumpsite is among the areas being addressed by a $500,000 grant going to the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana.

Since its inception in 1995, EPA says its “investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment,” creating “significant benefits for communities across the country.”

The list of 2022 grant recipients can be found here.