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EPA awards over $8 million to states and tribes to spur redevelopment and boost local economies in the Northwest and Alaska

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Mark MacIntyre (

(SEATTLE) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $8.3 million in Brownfields State and Tribal Response Program grants in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. This funding is aimed at building capacity to address contaminated sites and enhance Brownfields efforts to foster local economic growth.

“State and tribal response programs continue to be at the forefront of Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.  “Both public and private markets recognize the opportunities created by these programs to lock-in protective and sustainable cleanups.”

Brownfields re-development can be a key to revitalizing commercial property and local economies. By cleaning up previously contaminated properties, these sites can be reused, preventing sprawl, preserving green space, reinvigorating communities and protecting public health and the environment.  Building capacity in states and tribal communities helps each program gain the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise and address contaminated sites.

Here are four examples of state and tribal Brownfields response grants in action:

Land Revitalization Assistance at the Former Prairie Elementary School in Cottonwood, ID

The EPA Land Revitalization Team provided technical assistance to the Cottonwood School District to revitalize a local valued asset: a former elementary school with a full-size gymnasium. After the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Brownfields program conducted an environmental site assessment, the community spent several years unsuccessfully trying to sell the property. EPA’s Land Revitalization team then helped assess market opportunities and limitations. They also provided on-the-ground evaluation by a real estate technical expert to develop different approaches to repurpose and reuse the property and building.  Aided by this additional information, the IDEQ Brownfields program committed to cleaning up the asbestos, lead paint and mercury switch issues using EPA Brownfield Response Program funding.

Tanana Chiefs Conference (Serving 42 Tribes in Interior Alaska) -Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is an Alaska Native Non-profit corporation dedicated to meeting the health and social service needs of tribal members throughout Alaska’s interior. The TCC Brownfield Tribal Response Program (TRP) is open to all member tribes within TCC’s service region. The TRP is available to help tribes address brownfields in their community or help move already-developed projects along.  The TCC Brownfields web page hosts the public record for 29 communities and contains over 150 entries.  Recently TCC collaborated with partners to develop Brownfield/contaminated site outreach specifically for village and regional corporations. (

Swinomish Tribal Community Brownfield Tribal Response Program - Taking the Lead in Emergency Preparedness - A 2013 fire at the Swinomish reservation marina was a “wake-up call” for the tribe to take stock of their emergency preparedness.  Working with the Swinomish Police, the Tribal Emergency Planning Committee, and local Skagit Fire District 13, Tribal Response Program staff applied for additional grants and began upgrading their program. They attracted funding for Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique(SCAT) training, 40-hour Hazmat safety trainings, utility trailers and 800 feet of oil containment boom. They later added hazardous gas detectors for the local Fire District, lighting and night search and rescue equipment for the Swinomish Police Marine Patrol.  Today, they enjoy a community much better prepared to protect the environment from hazardous materials and oil releases and are preventing future brownfields through their Brownfield Tribal Response Program.

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Tiny native Alaska village uses native plants to clean up diesel contamination” - The Alaska Native Village of Ruby was faced with a dilemma: How could they keep a much-loved and used Community Center available to the community while affordably cleaning up existing diesel contamination? As it turns out, plants proved to be the solution:  With ADEC’s Brownfield State Response Program funding (via DEC Brownfield Assessment & Cleanup service), tests showed that soils near the building were contaminated by petroleum in two places and the building required a better vapor barrier to prevent intrusion. The most cost effective treatment turned out to be “rhizo-remediation”:  The 430 cubic yards of contaminated soil were excavated and transported to a remote site, where it was densely planted with native plants. Progress is being monitored as the plants’ roots accomplish the cleanup.

State and Tribal Response Programs are under way in all 50 states, territories and tribal lands, touching all 10 EPA regions. 

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For more information about EPA’s Brownfield’s state & tribal response grants:

Project highlights:

More on EPA’s Brownfields Program:

Brownfields Background in the Pacific Northwest & Alaska: