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EPA Brownfields Grants Will Assist New Hampshire Communities with Site Assessments and Clean-up

EPA Grants Help Return Blighted Properties to Productive Reuse and Promote Economic Redevelopment

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BOSTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that six N.H. towns are among 144 communities across the United States to benefit from EPA funding for brownfield site revitalization efforts.

EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for work in New Hampshire:

  • North Country Council Inc., serving Berlin, Colebrook and Northumberland, with a $300,000 Community-wide Assessment Grant;
  • Somersworth, with a $200,000 Cleanup Grant to remove contaminants from the former Breton Cleaners property;
  • Southwest Regional Planning Commission, serving Hinsdale and Winchester, with a $200,000 Community-wide Assessment Grant.

The N.H. based grantees are among 221 grants awarded nationwide, totaling $54.3 million. The EPA Brownfields funding will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment.

"EPA's Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These grants leverage other public and private investments, and improve local economies through property cleanup and redevelopment."

EPA's Brownfields grants to New Hampshire this year are among another significant annual investment by EPA to help New England communities address brownfield properties. Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding 26 grants totaling $8.35 million, which will help up to 75 communities undertake work assessing or cleaning brownfields.

"EPA is very proud of our robust and effective Brownfields program here in New England," said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA Brownfields funding has made a tangible and lasting difference in hundreds of communities, helping citizens and civic leaders to revitalize abandoned or underutilized properties, and return them to productive use for people to enjoy."

"New Hampshire greatly appreciates EPA's continued support for Brownfields assessment and cleanup work throughout our state," said Robert Scott, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. "Environmental site assessments provide communities the information they need to position contaminated properties for subsequent cleanup.  The cleanup of contaminated properties often serves as a catalyst for both public and private investment in the communities in which they are located."

The North Country Council Inc. was selected for two brownfields assessment grants to perform work in the target areas of Berlin, Colebrook, and Northumberland. A community-wide hazardous substances grant of $200,000 will be used to conduct six "Phase I" and four "Phase II" environmental site assessments. A community-wide petroleum grant of $100,000 will be used to conduct three Phase I and two Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds of both types also will be used to inventory and characterize potential brownfields, and support outreach and education activities.

"North Country Council over the years has had a strong Brownfields Program focused on the redevelopment of abandoned mill and industrial sites. We are now excited for the opportunity to turn our focus to reinvigorating our regions downtowns through this EPA Brownfields Grant award.  This funding will provide the means for North Country Council to assist communities in assessing and redeveloping underutilized properties in the region's downtowns. Revitalization of downtowns through North Country Council's Brownfields Program will maximize our region's downtowns, leading to a better quality of life for residents, environmental protection of water resources and natural landscapes, increase jobs and provide opportunity for safe, quality, affordable housing," said Michelle Moren-Grey and Kathleen Frenette, Co-Executive Directors of North Country Council.

The City of Somersworth was selected for a $200,000 Brownfields cleanup grant to perform cleanup work at the former Breton Cleaners property at 1 Winter Street. The .6-acre parcel served as a railroad freight depot owned by the Boston and Maine Railroad beginning in the 1850s until it was sold in 1974 to Prime Tanning, which owned a leather tanning mill across the Salmon Falls River in nearby Berwick, Maine. In 1982, the property was sold and used as a coin-operated and commercial laundry and dry-cleaning facility until the 1990s. The city acquired the property in 2016. The cleanup site is contaminated with tetrachloroethylene and metals. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community involvement activities.

"I am very pleased and excited about EPA's Brownfields Grant Award to the City. This Grant will allow us to bring life back to a prime piece of property located at a Gateway to our Downtown adjacent to the Salmon Falls River. We look forward to working collaboratively with EPA on this important City Brownfields project. On behalf of the City I want to thank EPA staff for their guidance & support throughout the Brownfield's Program Grant process. I also want to thank my staff, particularly Director Shanna Saunders, as well as NH DES and the entire grant support team," said Robert Bellmore, City Manager of the City of Somerworth.

The Southwest Region Planning Commission was selected for a $200,000 Brownfields assessment grant to perform environmental assessments in Hinsdale and Winchester. Community-wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to conduct three Phase I and up to four Phase II environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop three cleanup plans and support community outreach and engagement activities.

"This award will allow us to continue to support the communities of Southwest New Hampshire in creatively addressing environmental and economic development challenges," said Tim Murphy, Executive Director of SWRPC. "Our success is a testament to the tireless efforts provided by SWRPC's Brownfields Advisory Committee comprised of volunteer community members, environmental experts and economic development practitioners."

"With this particular grant, we hope to assist in the development of our area's first ever brownfield solar array," added J.B. Mack, Principal Planner who oversees SWRPC's Brownfields Assessment program. "We are excited to have this opportunity, and the capacity building experience that will help our program explore the energy generation potential of other area brownfields sites."

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded 382 assessment grants totaling $110.5 million, 75 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $102.9 million and 290 cleanup grants totaling $71.8 million. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $2.9 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 18,100 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures away from undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

The EPA Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged and provides funding and assistance to transform contaminated sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth. A study analyzing 48 Brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $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 $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these brownfield sites. Another study found that property values of homes located near brownfield sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent post cleanup.

Communities can use EPA Brownfields funding to leverage considerable infrastructure and other financial resources. For example, EPA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used to address the water quality aspects of brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on brownfields, respectively. EPA's Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund brownfield project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of brownfields.

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