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National Aquarium group selected for EPA grant

Release Date: 05/15/2008
Contact Information: Roy Seneca seneca.roy@epa.gov (215) 814-5567

BALTIMORE (May 15, 2008) -- Funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's brownfields program will help the National Aquarium's Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation clean up a 13-acre site here along the Patapsco River.

"Brownfields initiatives demonstrate how environmental protection and economic development work hand-in-hand. This funding will help reclaim properties that have been unused for years and turn those sites into assets for the community, the environment and the economy," said Donald S. Welsh, administrator for EPA's mid-Atlantic region.

EPA has selected the Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation to receive a $200,000 brownfields cleanup grant that will be used to clean up the center's 13-acre Middle Branch site at 101 West Dickman Street in Baltimore. The Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation is a non-profit affiliate of the National Aquarium Institute.

Located along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, the site is contaminated with heavy metals, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, and semi-volatile organic compounds. The site was created by filling a shallow flat in the river with construction and demolition debris from various projects around the city. It is located across the river and south of the Cherry Hill community. Cleanup is expected to help improve the water quality of the Middle Branch River.

"We are committed to the Middle Branch redevelopment, and look forward to being a part of reclaiming this vital part of Baltimore City and this waterfront," said Brent Whitaker, executive deputy director of biological programs at the National Aquarium. "The first stage in this revitalization is this EPA grant, which gives us the ability to remediate the land that we acquired in February 2007."

This project supports plans to develop an Animal Care and Conservation Education Center, a waterfront and environmental demonstration park, and a public-access trail and fishing pier.

Baltimore is one of 209 communities nationwide receiving more than
$74 million in brownfields-related funding this year. Brownfields are generally abandoned industrial properties where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination. EPA estimates there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, limits development pressures on undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

More information on the brownfields program and brownfields grants is available at: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/index.html . ###