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Newark Group to Use EPA Funds to Give Residents Valuable Job Skills

Release Date: 02/03/2009
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212) 637-3662,

(New York, NY) In these sobering economic times, almost everyone can use a little help and that is just what EPA is giving the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) in the form of a $200,000 grant from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); it will be used to teach local residents environmental assessment and cleanup skills that can land them good jobs. Under the grant, NJISJ will train more than 80 underemployed or unemployed Newark residents. The project has multiple benefits, because the skills students learn can be applied to assessing and cleaning up its estimated 700 acres of brownfields, abandoned and underused properties. Newark projects a growing need for environmental workers as its brownfields cleanups are revamped and plans to redevelop the waterfront get underway.

“This program marries perfectly the need to get people back to work and the need to clean up and put potentially contaminated properties to use throughout Newark,” said George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator. “What better way to tackle Newark brownfields than to teach its very own residents the skills needed to transform these community eyesores into useful pieces of land that will benefit the city.”

Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfields sites. The grants are geared toward cleaning up contaminated properties and turning them into productive community assets.

Under the recent EPA grant, NJISJ plans to train 87 students, place at least 53 graduates in environmental technician jobs, and track students for one year. The training program will consist of four 100-hour training cycles that include coursework in lead abatement, asbestos removal, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and other issues often faced at brownfields sites. Once the training is complete, NJISJ will work with the Workforce Investment Board and Essex County Building Trades Council to place graduates in environmental jobs.

Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $25 million in brownfields job training funds. More than 4,000 people have completed training programs, with more than 3,000, or about 75 percent, obtaining employment in the environmental fields. The program is designed to ensure that the economic benefits derived from brownfields redevelopment remain in the affected communities.

For more information about EPA’s brownfields program, visit: For more information about this job training grant, go to: