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EPA to Aid Clean-up of Old Paint Sites

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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The New England birthplace of marine coatings and other abandoned sites long tainted by paint, coating and solvent waste will share in $69.3 million in new federal environmental funds to clean up the properties, paving the way for redevelopment.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday (May 24) that it was awarding grants to 245 recipients in 39 states to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial sites.


The funds will come from the EPA’s 10-year-old Brownfields Program, a competitive grant program that supports the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of property contaminated by pollutants and hazardous substances. Some of the funds will also go for clean-up planning and community outreach activities.

 The old Tarr & Wonson Paint Manufactory, built in 1874, has been abandoned for decades.

 Historic New England

The old Tarr & Wonson Paint Manufactory, built in 1874, has been abandoned for decades. A nonprofit has received funding to clean up the site.

There are now about 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in the United States. Many were once painting, coating or finishing operations.

The new funds will support clean-up or assessment at the following sites.

Tarr & Wonson Paint Manufactory - Gloucester, MA

EPA has awarded $200,000 to the Ocean Alliance to clean up hazardous substances at the Tarr & Wonson Paint Manufactory  site in Gloucester.

The manufacturing site—the global birthplace of marine coatings—operated for more than 120 years until it was abandoned in the 1980s. Today, the site is contaminated with various metals and solvents.

T.C. Esser Paint – Milwaukee, WI

The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (WI) will receive three brownfields cleanup grants totaling $600,000.

The grant includes $200,000 to clean up the T.C. Esser Paint site, a former paint and stained-glass manufacturing complex that was built in 1920. Vacant since 1999, the site is contaminated with heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and inorganic contaminants.

 EPA awarded $200,000 to clean up hazardous substances left behind at Milwaukee’s T.E. Esser Paint Co., which closed in 1999.

 Wikimedia Commons / Peter Kokh

EPA awarded $200,000 to clean up hazardous substances left behind at Milwaukee’s T.C. Esser Paint Co., which closed in 1999.

In addition, petroleum grant funds will be used to clean up two adjacent parcels that were once home to manufacturing facilities that produced auto frames, military equipment, and electric motors.

Stacor Corp. – Newark, NJ

The City of Newark will receive three brownfields cleanup grants. They include $200,000 to clean up two former sites owned by Stacor (now Archive Designs), manufacturer of document filing cabinets.

From the early 1900s to the late 1990s, a 2.6-acre former Stacor site was used for various industrial operations, including metal works and metal products manufacturing. Site investigations have revealed widespread soil contamination, including semi-volatile organic compounds, metals and PCBs.

In addition, a 1.4-acre site was developed in 1931 and used for a variety of activities, including the production of additives for the printing and paper coating industries. The site was foreclosed on in 1996, leaving behind two 10-foot-diameter aboveground storage tanks and 150 drums. The property soil is contaminated with metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

The third grant will go to clean a former Northern New Jersey Oil site used to distribute petroleum products and, later, for auto repair and storage.

Kiley Barrel - Somerville, MA

The City of Somerville has been awarded three brownfields cleanup grants totaling $600,000 to clean up three parcels at the former Kiley Barrel property. The property was used for barrel storage, cleaning, refinishing and resale operations from the late 1920s through 1989. The parcels are contaminated with heavy metals, PCBs and volatile organic compounds.

Mixed Industrial Sites - Madison, WI

The City of Madison will receive $400,000 in hazardous-substances funds to clean up two sites that have been in industrial and commercial use for 100 years. Businesses at those locations have included solvent storage, a spray painting operation, and a machine shop. They are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and metals.

‘Rebuilding Struggling Communities’

“Restored Brownfield properties can serve as cornerstones for rebuilding struggling communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “These grants will be the first step in getting pollution out and putting jobs back into neighborhoods across the country.”

Overall, about 29 percent of the 2012 grants are being awarded to non-urban areas with populations of 100,000 or less; 16 percent, to “micro” communities of 10,000 or less; and the rest, to larger urban areas.
Tens of thousands of jobs have been created and more than 700 brownfield properties have been cleaned up since the program began, EPA says. Many of those have been in underserved and low-income neighborhoods.

Said Jackson: “We’re providing targeted resources to help local partners transform blighted, contaminated areas into centers of economic growth.”


Tagged categories: Coatings manufacturers; EPA; Hazardous waste; Marine Coatings; Paint disposal; Solvents; VOC content

Comment from Car F., (5/30/2012, 10:39 AM)

A typical case of public money subsidizing private money. I assume these sites were privately owned, earning private money, generating private capital and private profits...why is it that the public now is responsible for the debt of private interest, isn't that corporate welfare?

Comment from Jerry Trevino, (5/30/2012, 9:44 PM)

I agree Car F. Stop the spending of Public money on private problems. This should include all individual debt, Fema, Freddie, Stupid University grants, Solindra, solar power, green energy, high speed rail, etc, etc. Stop the darn spending 17 trillion is enough.

Comment from Bill Patterson, (6/1/2012, 8:58 AM)

Would that it were as easy as simply stopping the flow of monies. The land sits there, valuable serviced property but now abandoned, in probably most cases burdened with more in back taxes than the market value of the land, and possibly leaching contaminants into surrounding environs. The companies responsible may be bankrupt, or if not the law suits would cost more than the cost of the clean-up. It's a lose-lose situation. The only solution is to have strong enough controls that the conditions are not allowed to develop in the first place, but then everyone screams about government control interfering with business, and politicians who "won't let environmental concerns stand in the way of the economy". (Isn't that a direct quote from Stephen Harper, current Prime Minister of Canada? But for sure he's not alone.)

Comment from Car F., (6/4/2012, 10:46 AM)

You are right Mr Patterson. The initial controlling agencies failed to do their job and allowed this situation to develop. Sadly, the same continues today, but worse with controlling agencies actually being PREVENTED to do their job by cut backs and deregulation, sooner or later - as in this case - the taxpayers ends up paying, it is a short sighted policy that is destroying our world and social fabric.

Comment from M. Halliwelll, (6/5/2012, 10:52 AM)

Car and Bill, the other thing to look at is what was considered "okay" at the time. Environmental awareness and responsibility has only become a factor in the last ~30 years with the last 15 being a time of massive awareness growth and resistance too. Heck, many of the regulators didn't exist when some of these problems started (the EPA only came into being in 1970). A prime example: It wasn't that long ago that diesel fuel was sprayed on gravel roads by municipalities for dust control purposes...but you can't do it today without it being seen as a diesel spill. Unfortunately, that means the ignorance of our past has left us with a legacy or contamination that needs to be cleaned up. It's one thing if a stong company has survived the years and has the means to look after past actions, but it also means that where the weaker companies have failed, we're left with a choice: contamination or public money for clean-ups. Not ideal, but in many cases it's the lesser of two evils.

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