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EPA Awards Two Brownfields Grants in Vermont; Part of 80 Grants Handed out Nationwide

Release Date: 05/20/2002
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it will spend $2.25 million to help assess, clean and redevelop abandoned, contaminated sites throughout New England, including $350,000 for two projects in Vermont

"Reclaiming America's brownfields properties is an effective way to help revitalize and reinvigorate our nation's blighted neighborhoods while at the same time preventing urban sprawl," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

The brownfields projects funded in Vermont – in Rutland and through the Windham Regional Planning Commission – were part of more than $14 million in brownfields grants given to in 80 communities around the nation today.

"These grants will bring much needed momentum to community brownfields programs in Vermont, and all across New England," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "Dozens of contaminated sites in the region have already been successfully restored through this program. The money we offer to the communities in our region today ensures even more successes down the road."

Earlier this year, President Bush signed bipartisan legislation that will encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of old industrial properties – cleaning up our environment, creating jobs and protecting small businesses from frivolous lawsuits. In addition, the President's fiscal year 2003 budget request doubled the funds available through the EPA in FY 02 – from $98 million to $200 million – to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfields sites.

Under the EPA's Brownfields Assessment Program, communities receive funding to assess contamination at abandoned and vacant sites, and to estimate the costs of cleaning up sites for redevelopment. Communities also receive funding to establish revolving loan programs allowing them to provide low interest loans to clean up these sites. Once assessed and cleaned, these sites can be put back into productive use by the community.

"Brownfields reclamation is one of the great environmental success stories of the past decade," Whitman said. "But the story is hardly over. EPA and its partners in every state of the union are ready to write the next chapter in the brownfields story. Given the commitment of this administration, I can guarantee you that story will have a very happy ending."

These grants bring the total amount that EPA has spend on brownfields projects in Connecticut to date to approximately $3 million.

EPA selected the Rutland Redevelopment Authority for a $200,000 Brownfields Assessment Pilot grant. Historically, the community's economy has focused on agriculture, stone quarrying, lumber production, foundry operations and manufacturing. As a result of these activities and increased business sprawl into areas outside Rutland, the city contains many abandoned or underused sites with real or perceived environmental issues. In particular, historical use of sites within and surrounding the city's railroad switching yard indicates the potential for release of hazardous substances, including volatile organic compounds, toxic metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), waste solvents and cyanides.

The grant will target three sites adjacent to the original railyard in downtown Rutland and between the city's current business park and central business district. The city's objective is to reuse vacant and underused properties in the vicinity of the city's railroad switching yard, while complementing the city's ongoing rail relocation project.

The Windham Regional Planning Commission – which serves 27 towns in three counties – will receive $150,000 for an ongoing brownfields project.

The original project created an inventory of sites in need of environmental assessments and established a brownfields steering committee that evaluated 13 sites nominated for the program. This supplemental grant will focus on site assessments and assess priority brownfields sites and determine whether they are clean or require cleanup planning.

One site that likely will receive environmental assessment through this supplemental assistance is the property surrounding the 10-acre TLR Building site in Bellows Falls. This former paper manufacturing site is now a hydroelectric power plant and has strong potential for redevelopment. The supplemental assistance also will target additional sites nominated for environmental assessments. A number of sites nominated for the Pilot are along the Connecticut River, which is an American Heritage River.

For more information, visit the following EPA Web sites:

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