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EPA Announces $600,000 in Recovery Act Funding for Contaminated Land Clean-up, Green Job Creation in Aiken, SC

Release Date: 05/20/2009
Contact Information: Carl Terry, 404-562-8325, terry.carl@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – May 20, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced $600,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for Aiken, S.C., to help the communities of Graniteville, Vaucluse and Warrenville clean up brownfields sites which may be contaminated by hazardous chemicals or pollutants. The Aiken Housing Authority and its partners, including the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), will use this grant to return several abandoned textile mills to productive use, jumpstarting the local economy and creating green jobs.

“Brownfields initiatives demonstrate how environmental protection and economic development work hand-in-hand,” said Beverly Banister, Acting Deputy Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “This funding will help local efforts in transforming underutilized properties into community assets while providing a boost for the economy through the creation of jobs.”

The Aiken sites include the Warrenville Mill Site, where development plans include office, residential and research facilities with an estimated value of more than $200 million, once completed. A total of 15 former industrial sites will be evaluated for possible environmental contamination from more than 150 years of manufacturing.

The Graniteville Mill Site received a site-specific $200,000 portion of the total $600,000 for extensive environmental assessment of the Graniteville chemical spill, resulting from a train derailment. The 31- acre Avondale Mills Gregg Plant encompasses 505,000 square feet of buildings, and includes more than 35 above-ground storage tanks and several underground storage tanks. SCDHEC is also assisting with this environmental investigation.

Besides environmental investigation and cleanup planning, the grant provides for public involvement in the redevelopment of the sites. The following community organizations are involved with the Aiken Housing Authority as partners: Graniteville Community Coalition, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Imani Group, Aiken Branch NAACP, GVW Incorporation Study Committee, Leavelle McCampbell Middle School and Graniteville First Baptist Church.

The grants will help assess, cleanup and redevelop abandoned, contaminated properties known as brownfields. Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. In addition, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002 expanded the definition of a brownfield to include mine-scarred lands or sites contaminated by petroleum or the manufacture of illegal drugs. Grant recipients are selected through a national competition. The Brownfields Program encourages cleanup and redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 brownfields sites.

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on Feb. 17, 2009, and has directed that the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how every dollar is being invested at Recovery.gov.

Additional information on the EPA Region 4 brownfields recipients and their projects is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region4waste/bf

More information on brownfields cleanup revolving loan fund pilots and grants and other brownfields activities under the Recovery Act is available at: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/eparecovery/index.htm