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EPA Awards $400,000 to Cleanup and Revitalize Rhode Island Communities and provide economic, health and environmental benefits

Release Date: 06/10/2011
Contact Information: EPA New England Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass. – June 10, 2011) – EPA is providing $400,000 in Brownfields grants to help Rhode Island communities to assess, cleanup and redevelop abandoned or contaminated properties.  The funding is part of more than $76 million in EPA brownfields investments across the country announced this week by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to protect health and the environment, create jobs and promote economic re-development in American communities.

The grant money can assist work to reclaim sites including old textile mills, sites containing hazardous substances and petroleum products and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties.  EPA’s Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

In Rhode Island, EPA is providing a $400,000 Brownfield grant to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for community-wide assessment of hazardous substances and petroleum contamination. 

“This EPA funding will help strengthen the economic foundation of these communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England’s office. “Cleaning and revitalizing contaminated sites helps create jobs, providing a solid foundation for a community to create new businesses and neighborhood centers, while making our environment cleaner and the community healthier.”

“This Brownfields grant is an important economic development tool the state can use to clean up hazardous sites and redevelop underutilized properties.  Over the years, Rhode Island has leveraged Brownfields funding to clean up and redevelop over 65 different sites throughout the state, generating millions of dollars in economic development and creating hundreds of jobs.  These grants are a catalyst for revitalization, but it is the local communities that make them work,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal funding for EPA programs.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, “Cleaning up old industrial properties not only improves the health of our communities, it also makes this previously unusable land available for new economic development.  Creating space for businesses to locate and expand provides help for our struggling economy.  I commend RIDEM for all the great work they are doing and look forward to seeing the effect this grant will have on our communities.”

Congressman Jim Langevin remarked, “The Brownfields program has been so successful because a small amount can leverage vast public and private resources, averaging over $17 in outside spending for every Brownfield dollar.  Further, this funding also creates jobs during the clean-up effort, in addition to making the site available for new and long-term economic development opportunities, like in the case of the $200,000 grant to Meeting Street that helped attract nearly $27 million from private and public resources.”

“With the grant awarded to the Department of Environmental Management this year, we will be able to address two different types of sites --- those contaminated with hazardous substances, and those contaminated with petroleum,” noted DEM Director Janet Coit. “This $400,000 in funding will allow DEM to further collaborate with any community in Rhode Island, with particular attention paid to some of Rhode Island’s more rural and suburban areas which have not had the ability to participate in the Brownfields assessment program.”

The $12.55 million in grant and Revolving Loan Fund money awarded by EPA to a variety of New England communities and organization will provide substantial help around the region.  The EPA funding leverages over $46 million of other money to pursue brownfields cleanup and revitalization work. In New England, these projects have created 98 clean up jobs this year as well as 135 redevelopment jobs.

As of June 2011, EPA’s brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $16.3 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, and helped create more than 70,000 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment. These investments and jobs target local, under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.

Since the beginning of the Brownfields Program, in New England alone EPA has awarded 268 assessment grants totaling $67.1 million, 61 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $65 million and 174 cleanup grants totaling $39.3 million.  These grant funds have paved the way for more than $1.3 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for 8815 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed. The brownfields law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands, sites contaminated by petroleum, or sites contaminated as a result of manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs (e.g. meth labs).

More Information:

EPA Brownfields program in New England: http://epa.gov/region1/brownfields/index.html

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