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Passaic County Receives EPA Grant for Brownfields Assessment Grant

Release Date: 01/08/2004
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(#04006) NEW YORK, N.Y. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today presented a ceremonial check for a $200,000 grant to Passaic County, New Jersey, to help identify and assess former industrial and potentially contaminated sites, called brownfields, within its 16 municipalities.

“Through the Brownfields Program, abandoned sites can be cleaned up and returned to productive use,” said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. “This grant will help Passaic County take a giant step toward redeveloping and revitalizing its communities. Passaic County will work with local communities to clarify the contamination status of brownfields sites to reduce uncertainties and clear the path for redevelopment.”

Passaic County Freeholder Director Elease Evans, Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr., and EPA Regional Administrator Jane Kenny at Passaic County Brownfields Event.“I am very pleased that Passaic County will receive these federal funds to further the brownfields program and I want thank my good friend Jane Kenny for her assistance,” said Pascrell. “Once the environmental problems are remedied, the economic potential at these sites can be realized and our communities can see benefits such as new jobs, enhanced recreational opportunities, and increased local tax revenues,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ, 8th) who recently hosted a Brownfields Forum that put federal, state and municipal agencies together with developers, school districts and brownfields experts to discuss how local brownfields sites can be utilized. “Brownfields redevelopment means cleaner environments, stronger economies, and stronger communities.”

Passaic County has more than 600 sites that could be considered brownfields – sites at which soil or ground water may be contaminated. The EPA grant will be used to identify and assess brownfield sites throughout the county. The county will work with each municipality to ensure that redevelopment plans are consulted, and that the local communities are involved in decision-making. In addition, the county plans to teach municipalities, business owners and residents about redevelopment tools and techniques.

Under the 2002 federal Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through four competitive grant programs: assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants and job training grants. This legislation provides communities the tools they need to reclaim and restore thousands of brownfield sites, including petroleum sites that present relatively low risk. It also allows local governments and nonprofit organizations to apply for funding, greatly expanding eligibility for assistance. $166.6 million was set aside for brownfields grants in 2003, and EPA expects a similar amount in 2004. To date, the Agency has given money to 28 communities in New Jersey to support local brownfields revitalization efforts.