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EPA LAUNCHES NEW ENGLAND BROWNFIELDS INITIATIVE, ISSUES GRANTS, SERVICES TO MASSACHUSETTS AS PART OF URBAN ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION PROGRAM

Release Date: 10/01/1996
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office (617)918-4154 Bill Walsh-Rogalski, Brownfields Coordinator (617)573-9678

BOSTON -- In an effort to curtail suburban sprawl and instead promote economic growth in New England's cities, EPA Administrator Carol Browner and New England Regional Administrator John P. DeVillars today launched the New England Brownfields Initiative. This four-pronged effort includes nearly $500,000 in additional grants to New England cities and nearly $400,000 for site assessments to spur economic development in eight other New England communities.

Today's announcement brings the total amount of funds awarded in New England under EPA's Brownfields Initiative to more than $2.2 million, and adds a number of new tools to the agency's urban agenda. EPA's Brownfields Initiative is designed to promote the return of contaminated urban sites to economic use.

In addition to these grants, EPA's New England Brownfields Initiative includes:

    • Agreements between EPA and property owners to limit the liability that can impede the transfer of contaminated properties to new owners;
    • Reviews of remedies at seven Superfund sites in order to limit the cost and speed the cleanup of these sites; and,
    • EPA site assessments of abandoned polluted properties throughout New England that offer the greatest potential for beneficial economic reuse. EPA will invest $385,000 in site assessments in eight New England communities to help local authorities launch these sites for redevelopment.
"This program is a cornerstone of the Clinton Administration's efforts to help our nation's cities in ways that make economic and environmental sense. By returning abandoned industrial properties into thriving, productive centers of activities we are protecting the health of our families, the health of our communities and the health of our economy," Browner said.

"With this effort, EPA is providing potent fuel for New England's economic recovery -- and we're doing it by promoting economic activity on contaminated urban properties so we can keep our farmland and open spaces free of the developers' bulldozer," DeVillars said.

For Massachusetts, today's announcement includes $275,000 in grants and services to state municipalities to speed the cleanup and economic reuse of contaminated urban sites.

Somerville received a Brownfields grant of $100,000, while Brockton and Roxbury will receive EPA site assessments to determine the nature and extent of contamination at sites that the cities are currently eyeing for redevelopment.

"The Brownfields program is an integral piece of our urban economic revitalization program, which is improving the quality of life for New England's city residents," DeVillars added. "EPA will work hard to make sure these projects contribute to the revitalization of these abandoned properties. Here in Massachusetts, EPA and our community partners will prove yet again that environmental protection and sustainable economic growth go hand in hand."

The Somerville Brownfields grant will be used to further investigate a portion of the city's 67 properties currently identified as being contaminated. Somerville's Office of Housing and Community Development will provide developers with two types of direct assistance: first, an environmental assessment of their property to determine the extent of contamination and the cost of cleanup; and second, remediation stop-loss insurance (funded by the city) to cover remediation costs in excess of the estimate.

In Roxbury, EPA will perform a site assessment at an abandoned electroplating facility where EPA expended approximately $1 million to conduct a removal to address immediate risks to public health. The assessment will identify any remaining contamination and provide an estimate of the costs to clean it up.

In Brockton, EPA will perform site assessment at two of five properties in the city's economic target area. All of the sites are vacant, abandoned and in tax title.

Four other New England municipalities, New Haven, Conn., Naugatuck Valley, Conn., Portland, Maine and Concord, N.H., also were selected as Brownfields projects today, bringing the total number of New England recipients to 13. Burlington, Vt.; Loring AFB, Maine; Chicopee, Mass.; Lowell, Mass.; Lawrence, Mass.; Worcester, Mass; and the State of Rhode Island received grants earlier this year. Boston and Bridgeport, Conn., round out the list of 13.

Other tools the agency is employing as part of its urban economic revitalization program include prospective purchaser agreements, remedy reviews and site assessments.

    • EPA-New England is using prospective purchaser agreements to foster development of contaminated parcels by removing the liability barriers associated with transferring the property to new owners. One such agreement is being used to foster the development of a shopping mall at the Raymark Superfund Site in Stratford, Conn.
    • Through a remedy review initiative, EPA-New England is reviewing past decisions to determine if new or better information exists that would yield a more cost effective cleanup remedy while maintaining health and environmental cleanup standards. Thus far, seven Superfund sites in New England have benefitted from updated remedy decisions, speeding the cleanup and reducing costs by more than $56 million.
    • The region is initiating a regional pilot program to conduct brownfields site assessments -- valued at more than $385,000 -- at eight municipally owned properties in an effort to promote redevelopment.