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EPA Brownfields Job Training Grant Will Provide Career Development for Residents Living in Brownfields Neighborhoods in Western New York State

Release Date: 05/18/2000
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(#00101) NEW YORK, N.Y.-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the State University of New York’s (SUNY) Center for Integrated Waste Management in Buffalo for a Brownfields Job Training and Development Demonstration Pilot grant of $200,000.  SUNY will partner with the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, as well as Niagara County, to recruit participants for the training program, targeting low-income, minority residents who are unemployed; displaced workers; or Welfare-to-Work recipients living in neighborhoods impacted by brownfields in Niagara County. SUNY plans to train at least 40 participants and support career placement of its graduates for one year after the training to achieve at least a 90% placement rate.

"Few programs in the state provide job skills training for those who are not in the educational mainstream. This grant will provide career training for livable wage jobs doing the brownfields assessments and cleanups being conducted in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Niagara County," EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox said, pointing out that there are more than 700 brownfields in Niagara County alone.  "Skilled environmental technicians are in increasing demand by environmental firms there," Ms. Fox explained.

EPA supports communities across the country through its Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative - a national effort to renew industrial and commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Western New York has experienced a significant restructuring of its industrial base, moving away from steel and chemical production and other manufacturing industries. Between 1980 and 1997, Niagara County lost 60% of its jobs in 40 of its largest industries, creating an unemployment rate much higher than the national average.

The Pilot training program will consist of an introduction to brownfields, health and safety training for hazardous waste workers, preliminary assessment and sampling procedures, remedial technology selection and training in the use of innovative assessment and cleanup technologies. Classroom training will be supplemented by hands-on training and field experiences in numerous topic areas.

SUNY at Buffalo has completed a preliminary survey of employer needs, which is guiding the curriculum development. In addition, employers have committed to consider graduates of the pilot program for employment.  SUNY’s training efforts will be supported by organizations including the University of Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center, the Niagara County Employment and Training Department, Niagara County Community College, the Hazardous Materials Research Center, Ecology and Environment, Inc. and SJB Services, Inc.