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Merced gets $200,000 to clean up, redevelop vacant lot

Release Date: 04/26/2006
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415) 947-4307, cell (415) 760-5421,

Funds will be used to redevelop contaminated properties

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 04/26/2006) During an event today at an abandoned lot in Merced, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri presented city officials with a grant award for $200,000 which will be used to assess a local “brownfields” property.

EPA and city officials convened for the announcement at the former Simpson’s Cleaners property, the only vacant lot on Main Street in an otherwise fully developed downtown. In addition to the dry cleaners, the site formerly housed a gas station, which is believed to have contributed to significant petroleum contamination.

The city worked with the Regional Water Quality Control Board to clean up soil contamination at the site associated with dry cleaning (PCE, or perchoroethylene) between 1994 and 1999. However, a sample from a monitoring well on the site has detected another contaminant, TPH (total petroleum hydrocarbons). Groundwater beneath the site is not currently used as a drinking water source.

“Merced is doing great work renovating and improving older buildings and properties in the downtown area rather spreading out further into farmland and county outskirts,” Nastri said. “The brownfields program enables communities to develop idle land into community assets.”

The city will use the funding to assess the environmental condition of the site, assess human health risks, and support community outreach activities for the cleanup and redevelopment of the Simpson’s Cleaners property.

“The brownfields grant is helpful in revitalizing the downtown and making Merced a better community,” said Merced Mayor Ellie Wooten. “After many years of hard work, the downtown has re-established itself as a thriving commercial and entertainment center. All you have to do is look around the downtown and to see the changes. This EPA grant is the next step in turning what is now a vacant lot into another bustling enterprise.”

The EPA's Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since the beginning of the Brownfields Program, the EPA has awarded more than 850 assessment grants totaling approximately $220 million, over 200 revolving loan fund grants totaling more than $183 million, and more than 230 cleanup grants totaling approximately $42 million. EPA's brownfields assistance has attracted more than $7.2 billion in private investment and helped attract more than 34,000 jobs.

For more information on the EPA’s Brownfields Program, visit: