Brownfields cleanup: EPA grants $2.2M

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11793351123078.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) said the grant amount is a new record for Rockford.‘);

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program is giving the city a helping hand at cleaning up old industrial sites along Rockford’s riverfront. Grants totaling $1 million from the EPA were presented to the city May 14. The announcement comes as the EPA issued $70.7 million in Brownfield grants to 202 applicants in 38 states.

“This is a great opportunity today,” Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) proclaimed. “We’re told that this is a record for Rockford—as well, perhaps, in the State of Illinois—for an individual branch from the U.S. EPA to support cleanup and remediation of some of our Brownfield sites.”

The EPA describes Brownfields as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” The EPA estimates 450,000 such sites throughout the nation.

Rockford received $400,000 in assessment grants for hazardous substances and petroleum left behind at manufacturing sites and gas stations no longer in use. The city received an additional $600,000 in hazardous substance cleanup grants for three areas at the former Barber-Colman facility.

The site is contaminated by metals, along with volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, which threaten to contaminate groundwater and the Rock River. The need for cleanup in the area has undoubtedly deterred residential, retail and recreational investment.

Morrissey said the Ingersoll building would also be assessed.

Freeport, Loves Park and Winnebago County also received $400,000 each in assessment grants from the EPA.

The EPA boasts having leveraged nearly $10 billion in Brownfield cleanup and redevelopment, resulting in the creation of more than 43,000 jobs.

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said, “By transforming thousands of blighted sites into engines of economic rebirth, EPA’s Brownfields program is proving to be one of the greatest environmental success stories of the past decade.”

Mayor Morrissey gave special recognition to Wayne Dust for putting together the applications resulting in the $1 million check, which is the maximum grant amount Rockford was eligible for. Dust serves as programs manager for Planning, Zoning & Neighborhood Planning Standards.

from the May 16-22, 2007, issue

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