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OAI Inc., Innovative Workforce Development, to Provide Green Job Training through EPA Brownfields Grants

Release Date: 08/04/2009
Contact Information: Belinda Young, 913-551-7463, young.belinda@epa.gov


Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., Aug. 4, 2009) - EPA has selected OAI Inc., Innovative Workforce Development, of Kansas City, Mo., to receive $500,000 in grant funding to help train community members for jobs assessing and cleaning up brownfields sites. Funding for these grants is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Acting Regional Administrator William Rice said, “The Brownfields Job Training Program is an avenue for residents from disadvantaged communities to receive environmental training in order to address Brownfield properties that negatively impact their communities.”

OAI has a well-established, successful program. The organization plans to train 80 students and place 64 graduates in environmental technician and other green jobs. The program consists of 98 hours of core training, followed by either 168 hours of environmental remediation training or 96 hours of energy conservation-weatherization training. Graduates will receive certifications in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) construction, and hazardous waste operations and emergency response (HAZWOPER) training. OAI will target unemployed and under-employed residents in the Kansas City metropolitan area, particularly within the city-designated “Green Impact Zone.” This zone has an unemployment rate of 58 percent and a per capita income of $12,239.

Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $25 million in brownfields job training funds. More than 5,000 people have completed EPA-funded training programs, with more than 3,250 obtaining employment in environmental fields, earning an average wage of $13.81 per hour. EPA established the Brownfields Job Training Program to help residents take advantage of jobs created by the assessment, cleanup and sustainable reuse of brownfields sites and to ensure that the economic benefits derived from brownfields redevelopment remain in the affected communities.

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 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Brownfields Law) was passed. The Brownfields Law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands or sites contaminated by petroleum or the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs. EPA’s Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 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 http://www.recovery.gov.
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Additional information on EPA Region 7 brownfields activities is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region07

Information on ARRA brownfields job training grants and other EPA Brownfields activities under the Recovery Act:
http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/eparecovery/index.htm

Information on brownfields job training grants: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/job.htm