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EPA Selects Eight West Virginia Projects to Receive $3.3 Million for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment

May 18, 2020
In The News

PHILADELPHIA (May 6, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that eight West Virginia communities have been selected to receive a total of $3.3 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields program.

“These grants will help communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “These funds are going to areas that need them the most. Several of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time or targeted to areas within Opportunity Zones.”

The West Virginia Brownfields Grant recipients are:

Braxton County Development Authority, Gassaway and Sutton, WV, Assessment Grant - 300,000: Assessment activities will focus on the rural towns of Gassaway and Sutton. Priority sites include an abandoned rail corridor, vacant and dilapidated commercial and retail buildings, and a former sawmill and lumber yard.

Brooke-Hancock Region XI Regional Planning and Development Council, Weirton and Wellsburg, WV, and Steubenville and Mingo Junction, OH Assessment Grant - $600,000: Assessment activities will focus on target areas in the Cities of Weirton and Wellsburg, West Virginia, and the City of Steubenville and Village of Mingo Junction in Ohio. The target areas in the City of Weirton and Mingo Junction are located in Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include the Frontier Crossings site in Weirton, the JSW Steel USA Ohio site in Mingo Junction, and the Town Square in Wellsburg.

Cornerstone Community Development Corporation, Huntington, WV Cleanup Grant - $462,590: Grant funds will be used to clean up the Prichard Building in the City of Huntington. The 13-story building was constructed in 1926 and operated as a hotel until the 1970s. Later uses include office space, storefronts, and apartments, but it currently is vacant. It is contaminated with inorganic contaminants and metals.

Huntington, WV, Assessment Grant - $350,000: Site-specific grant funds will be used to conduct an environmental site assessment and develop reuse and cleanup plans for the 42-acre ACF Industries site. From 1871 to 2000, the site was used to manufacture, repair, and service rail cars. The site has sat idle for the past 20 years.

New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, Hinton, WV, Cleanup Grant - $442,320: Grant funds will be used to clean up the former Hinton Ice House Property on Commercial Avenue in the City of Hinton. The cleanup site was used for cold storage of ice and perishable goods and storage of equipment and materials. It currently is vacant and contaminated with heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Central Kanawha River Valley, WV, Assessment Grant - $300,000: Assessment activities will focus on a 30-mile corridor in the Central Kanawha River Valley that encompasses four unincorporated communities and six municipalities, including the City of Charleston, and contains six Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include a 2.5-acre former steel fabrication business in the City of Charleston’s warehouse district, a vacant department store in downtown Charleston, and a former gasoline station in the City of South Charleston.

West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation, Morgantown, WV, Cleanup Grant - 500,000: Grant funds will be used to clean up the Smokestacks property in the City of Morgantown. The cleanup site was part of a 700-acre tract that housed a chemical plant in the 1940s. The 2.3-acre property housed a water treatment facility and a coal-fired power plant with four 20-story smokestacks. It is contaminated with mercury and inorganic contaminants and has not been safe to use for over 50 years.

West Virginia University Research Corporation, Grafton, WV, Assessment Grant -$300,000: Community-wide grant funds will be used to conduct environmental site assessments and reuse planning activities. Assessment activities will focus on the rural community of Grafton’s downtown historic district and several former industrial sites along the Tygart River. This target area lies within a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Priority sites include a former train depot, an abandoned glass factory, and an historic hotel.

 “Across the First District and the rest of West Virginia we have hundreds of abandoned industrial sites that sit empty. Many of these sites would be attractive for redevelopment but have legacy contamination issues that must be addressed first. The Brownfields Program has been an important tool to turn abandoned eyesores and repurpose them into economic opportunities,” said Congressman David McKinley (WV-01). “This is exactly why I fought to reauthorize and expand the Brownfields Program. We have seen many examples of how these grants can be used to revitalize communities and spur additional economic development. These investments will make a difference across West Virginia.”

Nationwide, 151 communities are selected to receive grant awards totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding through the Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“I’m pleased Brownfields grants are being awarded to our West Virginia communities with aid to clean up abandoned sites to provide for redevelopment,” said Congressman Alex Mooney (WV-02).  “This funding will lead to job growth and improved environmental conditions in previously hazardous areas.”

“Revitalizing hazardous work sites and repurposing them for new businesses is exactly the type of innovation that will help to create new jobs and grow our state’s economy,” said Congresswoman Carol Miller (WV-03). “I am pleased to see Administrator Wheeler and the entire EPA continue to prioritize our communities. Together we will make West Virginia a safer, healthier, and economically stronger place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, brownfields grants are shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5 and 15 percent following cleanup.

Background

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States.  EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding leveraged more than 160,000 jobs from both public and private sources,

List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0

For more on the brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields

For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones

For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits