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EPA ARRA and Brownfields Grants Strengthen Camden Communities

Release Date: 05/11/2010
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212) 637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) With the help of $1 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brownfields grants, including funding through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), the City of Camden, NJ is conducting extensive assessments of about ten abandoned sites in low income communities and will clean up 3 sites where assessments have already revealed contamination. Today, Craig E. Hooks, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management and the Agency’s top official for overseeing Recovery Act funds, was joined by Camden Mayor Dana Redd, Congressman Robert E. Andrews, and a representative of Senator Robert Menendez at one such site. The former Borden Chemical facility, located at 1625 Federal Street, will be assessed later this year with an eye toward cleaning it up and putting it back to use. This and other assessments were funded using $400,000 in ARRA funding. EPA brownfields grants address properties at which expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

“Thanks to the Recovery Act, Camden is able enhance its already successful program to find, assess and cleanup these sites that have for years been a blight on their communities,” said Assistant Administrator Hooks. “As we stand here in the heart of Camden I am struck by the proud history of this area, which is marred in some places by unfortunate scars. ARRA will help change all that.”

In spring 2009, Camden received two brownfields grants funded through the ARRA worth $200,000 each to conduct site assessments into the extent of contamination from hazardous substances and petroleum product. The 3-acre 1625 Federal Street site holds two unused buildings that were first used for the manufacturing of steam heating supplies in the early 1900s. In the mid-1900s, the facility was operated by a series of manufacturers of oil and water-based printing inks including Borden Chemical, which shut down its operations in 1981; the site has remained a useless eyesore ever since. Hazardous wastes generated by the site operations range from volatile organic compounds, which cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system, to printing ink and varnish wastes. Ink wastes contained heavy metals including cancer-causing hexavalent chromium. The assessment funds will be used to investigate the extent of the ground water and soil contamination at the site.

Just this past April, Camden was also chosen to receive $600,000 for the cleanup of hazardous substances at three sites within the ABC Barrel facility at 324-330 North Front Street, the 300 block of North Second Street, and 121-123 Penn Street in the Cooper Grant Neighborhood of Camden. The ABC Barrel facility was used as a wool mill, steam laundry, and drum refurbishing facility. The three sites within the facility are contaminated with organic compounds and metals. When the three sites are cleaned up, Camden plans to build 10 new homes, which will be part of a larger residential project with open space for a park and recreational use.

For general information on brownfields and how EPA is helping transform communities, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/brownfields.

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