The toxic legacy of abandoned boat sanding, shop painting, metal finishing and other industrial operations nationwide will be addressed with more than $62.5 million in newly released federal brownfields grants.
Abandoned sites contaminated by paint, lead, asbestos, arsenic, solvents, heavy metals and other hazardous materials in 45 states will receive grants for assessment, cleanup and redevelopment, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday (May 10).
A brownfield site is one that cannot be expanded, redeveloped or reused because of the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
The new grants target low-income neighborhoods where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed. About $29.5 million of the package will aid communities hit by auto plant closures. Nearly half of the recipients are new this year.
Built in 1939, the New Rockford Hospital in New Rockford, ND, has been vacant for more than 20 years. The city received a $200,000 Brownfields Cleanup grant to help to remove asbestos and raze the building.
The funding comes from EPA's Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (ARC) grants. Overall, 106 grants will support cities with populations greater than 100,000 and 134 grants will go to communities with fewer than 100,000 residents; 29 of the latter grants will serve small towns of less than 10,000 people.
The top five recipients by state were Florida ($4.2 million); Michigan ($3.9 million); Maine ($3.8 million); New jersey ($3.79 million); and Wisconsin ($3.4 million);
A searchable state-by-state listing of recipients is available here.
A list of state awards is available here.
The grants provide communities with the funding to assess, clean up and redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies and leverage jobs while protecting public health and the environment, EPA said.
"EPA's Brownfields money has proven to be an important catalyst for local communities to get under-utilized properties assessed and cleaned up, and back into productive use," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.
"This grant money will help reclaim sites containing hazardous substances, petroleum products and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties," Spaulding said.
"Cleaning and revitalizing contaminated sites helps create jobs, provides a solid foundation for a community to create new businesses and neighborhood centers, and makes our environment cleaner and our communities healthier."
Coating Cleanup Sites
Many of the sites slated for remediation once housed painting, coating and finishing operations. Among them:
Hartford, CT, was selected for three cleanup grants, including $400,000 for hazardous substances and $200,000 for petroleum.
Wikimedia Commons / Dumelow
EPA awarded $12 million in brownfields grants to locations in New England. Several sites are contaminated from paint shops that previously operated in now-abandoned locations.
Part of the hazardous substances funds will be used to clean up a vacant lot at 70 Edwards St. that once housed a paint and oil store dating to 1922. The property was demolished in 1980, leaving contaminated soil and groundwater. EPA notes environmental concerns that include semi-volatile organic compounds, metals and areas of polluted fill.
Hazardous substances funds will also be used to clean up a 1.2-acre parcel at 393 Homestead Avenue, the site of the former home of the Philbrick-Booth-Spencer factory and foundry. The company used to manufacture metal castings for airplane engines and environmental concerns at the site include elevated concentrations of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, PCBs and heavy metals.
Petroleum grant funds will be used to clean up the Downtown North Project Area at 40 Chapel Street, where petroleum released from a 3,000-gallon heating oil underground storage tank on the site has impacted soil and groundwater. The site is currently a gravel parking lot.
The City of Marysville, WA, was selected for a $200,000 hazardous substances cleanup grant for the Geddes Marina at 1326 1st Street.
Past activities at the location, including painting, boat sanding and fuel and oil storage and handling, likely contaminated the site with arsenic, cadmium and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, stormwater discharge from the adjacent mill site has likely caused some of the contamination. The property was historically used as a marina, but the city has stopped renewing leases and is removing several boat houses.
Two adjoining sites at the New England Youth Theatre in Brattleboro, VT, were selected for $400,000 in hazardous substances grants.
After more than a century of commercial and industrial use, just under an acre of land at 56 Elm Street draws environmental concerns including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PCBs and metals in soil. The site was previously used as a lacquer storage area for an on-site paint shop, a livery building and an automotive repair facility.
There are concerns that contamination from the Elm Street site may have migrated to the adjoining 1.3-acre site at 100 Flat Street. The location currently houses the theater, which is the only building remaining on the site. The Flat Street site was also used as a lumber yard from 1896 to 1967.
In Racine, WI, the former Walker Manufacturing Property was selected for a $200,000 hazardous substances cleanup grant.
Wikimedia Commons / Beyond My Ken
The New England Youth Theatre in Vermont sits on land that may have been contaminated from an adjoining location that previously housed lacquer storage for a paint shop.
Since its development around 1900, the property at 1201 Michigan Boulevard has housed extensive manufacturing operations, including painting, galvanizing, welding, machining and boiler making. The site is contaminated with substances including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, arsenic and heavy metals.
Wausau, WI, was selected for a $200,000 harzardous substances cleanup grant for the former Hammerblow Corporation site at 920-1000 1st Street.
Developed in the late 1800s, the site was used for an auto assembly and repair facility, lumber storage, and a tool company, which started to manufacture trailer jacks in the 1930s. Hazardous substances used at the site included paint, parts cleaner, xylene, machine lubricants and hydraulic oils. The primary contaminants at this location include chlorinated solvents and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons associated with foundry sand materials.
Brewer Redevelopment LLC was selected for $400,000 for two hazardous substances grants to clean up a former middle school at 5 Somerset Street and a former elementary school at 131 State Street.
The Somerset Street site was formerly used as a residential property, an artillery storage building and a middle school. The building contains hazardous building materials, including metals and PCB-containing products. Soil at the location is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The State Street site is also contaminated with hazardous building materials, and the site's groundwater is contaminated with benzene.
Berkeley Springs, WV
The Morgan County School Board was selected for a $200,000 hazardous substances grant to clean up the former Seely Furniture site located at 5595 Valley Road in Berkeley Springs, WV.
The site was used as a wood furniture finishing facility from 1963 to the early 1990s, when it was largely destroyed by a fire. The location was also previously used as an automobile repair, salvage and crushing facility and an automobile sales business. After the fire, the site was vacant until 2008, when a soccer field and gravel parking area were constructed and used until 2010.
The site is contaminated with arsenic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other hazardous materials.
There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated sites in the United States, according to EPA. More than 20,000 properties have been assessed, and more than 850 have been cleaned up through the brownfields program.
EPA says the program has "leveraged more than $19 billion in overall cleanup and redevelopment funding from public and private sources."
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.