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Brownfields Are Not All Polluted Equally

The EPA provides grants to assist with testing and cleanup of these abandoned and contaminated Brownfield waste sites.

Find green business solutions
california c&d construction and demolition debris recycling green solutions Conferences are great times to meet people you didn't expect to contact -- and that happened at the EcoBuild conference in Anaheim. An EPA Brownfields manager stopped by our booth and we visited about how brownfields can be a solution for businesses.

Not all brownfields are all that polluted! That was a shock. Some parcels of land located in highly polluted regions are assumed to be contaminated -- but after testing is completed, they are found to be less contaminated than assumed.

California has a lot of brownfields that are left-over mining operations. Some brownfields, such as mine tailings, can be remedied with solutions such as covering mine tailings with cement to prevent rainwater from washing the leached chemicals into the fresh water supply.

When asked who applies for EPA Brownfield awards to clean up brownfields, I learned that community groups are the most frequent applicants. Large companies don't apply because the funds available often don't cover the costs and small companies frequently can't wait for the year to three years the application process can take to finally get approved.

With this background conversation, it is interesting to pass along the following news release from the U.S. EPA about five Brownfields grants being awarded to California applicants.

Subject: U.S. EPA awards five Brownfields grants totaling $1.2 million to Bay Area groups

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2007
Contact: Wendy Chavez, Desk/415.947.4248,

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 05/14/2007) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a collective $1.2 million to cities and non-profits throughout the Bay Area to clean up and prepare for redevelopment on a variety of contaminated sites.

Nationally, the EPA awarded 302 grants totaling $75.9 million today as part of the agency’s Brownfields program, which provides funding to clean up and redevelop contaminated properties.

“The brownfields program empowers communities to return blighted eyesores into community assets,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco. “These grants provide jobs, curb suburban sprawl and clean up contaminated properties all at once. We look forward to helping more communities throughout the Pacific Southwest take advantage of this win-win grants program.”

The Bay Area EPA Brownfields grants are distributed as follows: $400,000 to the city of Emeryville to clean up the 4060 Hollis St. site, as well as another former railroad site at Sherwin and Halleck Streets.

  • $200,000 to the Fremont Redevelopment Agency to clean up a 5 acre property at 37592 Niles Blvd. that is contaminated with heavy metals.
  • $200,000 to Habitat for Humanity East Bay in Oakland to clean up polycyclic hydrocarbons and heavy metals at Habitat’s “Edes B” site at 10800 Edes Ave.
  • $200,000 to the Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life in Palo Alto to clean up an 8-acre property tainted with volatile organic compounds at 901 San Antonio Ave. that will serve as the organization’s new home.
  • $200,000 to the BRIDGE Housing Corporation in Palo Alto to plan and clean up the half-acre Fabian Way Senior Site at 901 San Antonio Wy.

The Brownfield’s program encourages redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since the beginning of the program, the EPA has awarded 1,067 assessment grants totaling more than $262 million, 217 revolving loan fund grants totaling more than $201.7 million, and 336 cleanup grants totaling $61.3 million.

In addition to industrial and commercial redevelopment, brownfields approaches have included the conversion of industrial waterfronts to river-front parks, landfills to golf courses, rail corridors to recreational trails, and gas stations to housing. EPA’s brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $9.6 billion in cleanup and redevelopment, helped create more than 43,029 jobs and resulted in the assessment of more than 10,504 properties and the cleanup of 180 properties.

For more information on the grant recipients, go to:

Edited by Carolyn Allen


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