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1999 News Releases



Release Date: 12/20/1999
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578, Marcia Holmberg, City of Las Vegas, (702) 229-6501

     Nation's First Cleanup Funded By EPA's Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the city of Las Vegas today announced that the cleanup of the National Guard Armory site in Las Vegas is complete, thus clearing the way for redevelopment.  The site is the first in the nation to benefit from EPA's new Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund.  The cleanup, which involved removal of over 600 cubic yards of soil contaminated with hazardous waste and petroleum hydrocarbons, cost $50,000.  The city plans to make the site a community center with space for a senior center, a small business incubator, a cultural center and retail stores.

      "The Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund helps local governments sweep away the last obstacle to redevelopment of abandoned industrial properties -- contamination," said Felicia Marcus, EPA's regional administrator. "This project demonstrates EPA's and the City of Las Vegas's commitment to getting Brownfields sites in the downtown Las Vegas area cleaned up and ready for re-use.  We applaud Las Vegas for getting the job done so quickly."

     "Thanks to the EPA, the City of Las Vegas is now able to develop a parcel of land that was recently considered an environmental hazard," stated City Councilman Gary Reese.  "I have been behind this clean-up from the moment it began and I am elated that we can now move forward on creating a social environment that this area so desperately needs."

     Said Alan Biaggi, Administrator of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, "The Division looks forward to continuing to build our partnership with the City of Las Vegas and EPA to empower our communities, businesses, and citizens in the revitalization of Brownfields sites resulting in a cleaner and healthier environment."

     The Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency applied to EPA in 1998 for assistance in redeveloping potentially contaminated areas.  In May of that year, EPA awarded the agency a $200,000 Brownfields Demonstration Assessment Pilot grant.  That grant was used to determine the extent of environmental contamination at the Armory and two other sites.

     The former National Guard Armory is a 3.6-acre site at the southeast intersection of Eastern and Stewart Avenues in Las Vegas.  The Nevada National Guard used the site from 1948 to 1997 for general operations, vehicle maintenance, and storage.  The National Guard ceased operations at the site and returned the property to the city of Las Vegas in late 1997.

     In 1998 and early 1999, with the help of EPA's Brownfields Assessment Pilot grant, the city conducted soil and groundwater sampling.  The sampling indicated that soil contamination was limited to about 600 cubic yards of soil in the immediate vicinity of a hydraulic lift that had been on the site.  Groundwater had not been contaminated.

     EPA made $500,000 available in May 1999 for the city of Las Vegas' Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan program.  The city then loaned $50,000 of this to the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency for the Armory cleanup.  The cleanup loan has a short, two-year term, and a low, 2% annual interest rate.  A revolving loan means that the money can be recycled again and again for new projects every time it is repaid.

     The neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity of the Armory site are predominantly Hispanic, with high unemployment and poverty rates.  Through the site's small business incubation center, the city hopes to provide opportunities for new community-based enterprises, as well as a community meeting place and cultural center.  A similar project, the Las Vegas Business Center, produced more than 75 jobs.

     The EPA's Brownfields Initiative is designed to empower states, local governments, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together to assess, clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields properties. The Initiative addresses the concerns of prospective developers and lenders about inheriting cleanup liability for property that is contaminated or perceived to be contaminated.  In addition, the Brownfields Initiative helps curb urban sprawl by attracting business and job growth back to existing industrial sites, thereby helping preserve farmland and open space.

     Further information on EPA's Brownfields Initiative can be obtained from EPA's Brownfields
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