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EPA Presents USTfields Cleanup Grant in Hudson County

Release Date: 04/08/2003
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(#03029) NEW YORK, N.Y. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today presented a $100,000 grant to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to address petroleum contamination at three sites in Hudson County. These sites in Harrison, Kearny and Bayonne were part of a pilot program that addressed petroleum contamination from underground storage tanks (USTs). The program has been replaced under more expansive federal brownfields legislation. These sites, contaminated by leaking underground storage tanks, have been dubbed “USTfields.”

“Abandoned gas stations are one of the most common sources of potential petroleum contamination, and they are eyesores as well,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. “The idea behind the pilot grants is to promote a unified approach to assessing, cleaning up and redeveloping sites contaminated by leaking underground storage tanks – bringing together all levels of government, as well as developers and community groups. By cleaning up these sites, we help return them to productive use and create jobs.”

Under its USTfields Initiative, EPA has given money to states and tribes to conduct pilot projects to assess and clean up petroleum contamination from USTs at idle or abandoned commercial properties. Because petroleum contamination was generally excluded from funding under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), EPA awarded USTfields funding using monies from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) trust fund.

“About half of the more than 600 known brownfield sites in Hudson County involve underground storage tanks or some kind of petroleum contamination,” said Kenny. “ This is one of the reasons the new brownfields legislation is so important.”

Under the USTfields Initiative, 50 grants were awarded of up to $100,000 each. The recipients of the awards were states, tribes or intertribal consortia with high-priority petroleum-contaminated properties. On January 11, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the “Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act,” which gives communities the tools they need to reclaim and restore thousands of brownfield sites, including low-risk petroleum sites. The legislation also allows local governments and nonprofit organizations to apply for funding, greatly expanding eligibility for assistance. $166.6 million was budgeted for brownfields grants in 2003.