The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it will award a total of $1.2 million in Brownfields grants to three communities in North Carolina for the assessment and cleanup of Brownfields properties, including abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, closed smelters, and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
The communities in North Carolina receiving Brownfields assessment grants include:
- Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, NC ($400,000 community-wide assessment grant)
- Williamston, NC ($400,000 community-wide assessment grant)
- Wilmington, NC ($400,000 community-wide assessment grant)
The Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. As of May 2011, EPA’s Brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $16.7 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, and 69,700 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment. These investments and jobs target local, under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed. Cleaning up our communities is one of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities, which leads not only to health and environmental benefits but also economic development and prosperity.
In the Southeast, 26 communities have been selected to receive Brownfields grants to assess, cleanup and redevelop properties. Nationally, 40 states and three tribes will share more than $76 million in Brownfields grants. In total, EPA is selecting 214 grants through the Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants programs:
- 114 assessment grants, totaling $32.5 million, will conduct site assessment and planning for cleanup at one or more Brownfields sites as part of a community-wide effort.
- 13 revolving loan fund grants, totaling $13 million, will provide loans and subgrants for communities to begin cleanup activities at Brownfields sites. Revolving loan funds are generally used to provide low interest loans or subgrants for Brownfields cleanups.
- 87 cleanup grants, totaling $17.2 million, will provide funding for grant recipients to carryout cleanup activities at brownfield sites they own.
EPA is also selecting 25 existing grantees to receive $13.4 million in funds to supplement their Revolving Loan Fund programs. Grantees will use this supplemental funding to provide loans and subgrants for cleanup of brownfield sites in their communities. Since the beginning of the Brownfields program, revolving loan fund grant recipients have executed 205 loans and 85 subgrants totaling more than $113 million.
Since the beginning of the Brownfields program in 1995, EPA has awarded 1,895 assessment grants totaling $447.6 million, 279 revolving loan fund grants totaling more than $273.1 million, and 752 cleanup grants totaling $140.8 million.
In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed. The Brownfields law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands, sites contaminated by petroleum, or sites contaminated as a result of manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs (e.g. meth labs).