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EPA announces funds to clean up contaminated Brownfield sites

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World Cement,

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced approximately US$10.7 million in supplemental funding to help transform communities by cleaning up contaminated brownfield properties. EPA plans to provide supplemental funding to 33 successful Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) grantees, helping more than 40 communities carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects. These projects will help communities create jobs while protecting people’s health and the environment.

"These funds – going to communities who have already achieved success in their work to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites – will help revitalize distressed communities, improve public health, encourage innovation, and boost local manufacturing opportunities," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management. “RLF funding is often the key to addressing critical financing gaps to leverage private sector resources to make cleanups and reuse of properties happen.”

RLFs supply funding for loans and sub-grants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. The supplemental funding to each grantee ranges from about US$200 000 to US$500 000.

The supplemental funds help maintain momentum so that more cleanups can be completed. These funds are provided to communities who have already achieved success in their work to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. Collectively, these communities have already leveraged more than US$600 million in cleanup and redevelopment investments. To date, the RLF grantees receiving supplemental funds have completed over 66 cleanups and provided more than 300 loans and sub-grants.

RLF grants help to transform neighborhoods by stimulating the economies of distressed communities and contributing to much-needed community projects and economic development. For example, the Washington State Department of Commerce plans to support a project that will provide senior housing with 108 independent living units, 35 assisted living units and 17 memory care units, plus commercial space. This project is projected to create 200-250 temporary jobs and 95-100 permanent jobs.

The funds are also being leveraged to clean up properties that will help maintain or provide additional manufacturing capacities to local plants. The City of Rochester (N.Y.), which is designated as a federal “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” (IMCP) Community, is proposing to use RLF supplemental funds for a site located in a New York State En-zone. En-zones are census tracts that meet certain poverty and unemployment criteria. Cleanup activities are expected to support continued manufacturing use at the site and will afford opportunities for future redevelopment and investment.

Innovation has always been an important component of EPA’s Brownfields program and RLF funds are also being used to encourage innovation and support renewable energy projects. An example is the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, which plans to use RLF supplemental funds for the development of a solar farm on a landfill.

There are an estimated 450 000 abandoned and contaminated sites in the U.S. Since the inception of EPA’s Brownfields program in 1995, cumulative investments have leveraged nearly US$21 billion from a variety of public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment activities. These investments have resulted in nearly 109 000 jobs nationwide. A recent study shows that residential property values increased 5-15% near brownfield sites when cleanups were completed. Preliminary analysis of 48 brownfield sites shows that an estimated US$29 to US$97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the US$12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those sites.

Adapted from press release by Joseph Green

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