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EPA Provides Brownfields Grant and Assistance to Mass. Communities

Brownfield Funding and Work Leverages Jobs and Promotes Economic Redevelopment

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David Deegan (

BOSTON - More than a dozen communities in Massachusetts will be given 17 awards totaling $4.920 million for brownfield site revitalization and technical assistance, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced today. These communities are among 172 across the country to receive EPA Brownfields funding.

Nationwide, a total of about $56.8 million has been awarded by EPA to fund selected recipients for brownfield site assessments and clean up as initial steps towards redeveloping vacant and unused properties, transforming them to productive reuse that will benefit the community and the local economy.

EPA's Brownfields grants and assistance to Massachusetts this year are among other significant annual investments by EPA to help New England communities to address brownfield properties.

The awards in Massachusetts were given to:

  • Berkshire Regional Planning Commission ($300,000 for a site assessment)
  • The City of North Adams ($300,000 for a site assessment)
  • The Town of Williamstown ($200,000 for cleanup)
  • The Town of Great Barrington ($300,000 for an assessment)
  • The Belchertown Economic Development Industrial Corp. ($400,000 for a cleanup)
  • The Town of Ludlow Mills ($120,000 for technical assistance)
  • The City of Chicopee ($600,000 for cleanup)
  • The City of Worcester ($300,000 for assessment)
  • The Town of Framingham ($300,000 for assessment)
  • The Town of Seekonk ($350,000 for assessment)
  • The City of New Bedford ($200,000 for cleanup)
  • The Lynn Economic Development Industrial Corp. ($300,000 for assessment and $200,000 for cleanup)
  • The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission ($300,000 for assessment)
  • The City of Lawrence ($350,000 for assessment, $200,000 for cleanup and $200,000 for job training)

Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding a total of $10.4 million for 32 communities to assess or clean brownfields, as well as $750,000 for technical assistance to six communities. 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 off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

"EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA's Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the President's budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program."

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded 382 assessment grants totaling $103.9 million, 73 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $90 million and 290 cleanup grants totaling $69.9 million. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $2.4 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for nearly 15,499 jobs in assessment, 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.

Nationwide, approximately $17.5 million of the assessment and cleanup funding announced today will benefit small and rural communities with populations less than 10,000. Approximately $25 million will go to communities who are receiving assessment and cleanup funding for the first time. Selected recipients will each receive approximately $200,000 - $600,000 in funding to work on individual sites or several sites within their community. These funds will provide communities with resources necessary to determine the extent of site contamination, remove environmental uncertainties and clean up contaminated properties where needed. Brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are strides closer to realizing a sites' full potential, while protecting public health and the environment.

Chelsea site during cleanup and redevelopment at the former Lawrence Metals Site
Chelsea site after cleanup and redevelopment at the former Lawrence Metals Site
Chelsea site during and after cleanup and redevelopment at the former Lawrence Metals Site

For example, the site where a former industrial and textile manufacturing company operated in Chelsea, Mass. is in the center of the City where over 45,000 people live within a mile radius. Hundreds of Chelsea High School students walk by the property every day. After all the manufacturing operations, the site was contaminated with PCB's and other contaminants. An EPA team involving multiple EPA cleanup programs including Brownfields investment, worked closely with the City and the State to create a multi-party funded cleanup and redevelopment opportunity. The development expanded the presence of lodging services in the Chelsea downtown with the building of the Homewood Suites Boston Logan Airport Chelsea Hotel. The partnership of EPA, MassDEP, the City of Chelsea, Mass Development and the developer combined the commitment and resources of public and private entities, making it the first of its kind in the Northeast.

Addressing and cleaning up sites, like those in the Chelsea neighborhood, across the nation will ultimately boost local economies and leverage redevelopment jobs while protecting public health and the environment. Brownfield sites are community assets because of their locations and associated infrastructure advantages. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15.2%. The study also determined that brownfield cleanup can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. A study analyzing data near 48 brownfield sites shows that an estimated $29 to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is 2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million the EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfields.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. As of May 2017, more than 124,759 jobs and $24 billion of public and private funding has been leveraged as a result of assessment grants and other EPA Brownfields grants. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.

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