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EPA Seeks New Technologies for Tackling CSOs, Arsenic and Other Pollution Problems

Release Date: 12/17/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617- 918-1014)

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the availability of a series of grant contracts to develop and commercialize new, cost-efficient technologies aimed at several of New England's most pressing environmental problems. All small businesses working on environmental technologies are invited to apply for these awards.

Through EPA's national Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, EPA will be awarding $11 million of contracts. Of that, $2.5 million will be focused on environmental problems chosen by EPA's New England Office – specifically, pollution from combined sewer overflows (CSOs), stormwater runoff and contaminated sediments in urban rivers.

In addition, $1 million will go towards technologies for removing arsenic from drinking water and $2.5 million for control and monitoring of mobile source air pollution emissions. The remaining $5 million will go towards all other environmental technologies.

"This grants program holds great promise for finding new, cost-efficient technologies that communities can use for tackling many of the region's most serious pollution problems," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, who announced the grants program at an EPA workshop last week in Chelmsford. "Many of New England's cities and towns are facing big financial challenges in controlling CSOs, stormwater and other contamination problems. These grants are one way we're working to ease the burden."

"The special SBIR programs and our partnership with EPA New England provide an opportunity for the agency to help businesses accelerate the development and commercialization of new environmental technologies that are needed to control important sources of pollution in a cost effective manner," said Dr. Jim Gallup, program manager of EPA's national SBIR Program, who also spoke at the workshop.

Last week's training workshop in Chelmsford was designed to teach small businesses how to successfully apply for the contracts. Copies of materials and presentations from the workshop are available from EPA New England's Center for Environmental Industry and Technology (CEIT) at 1-800-575-CEIT (1-800-575-2348).

SBIR contracts are open to any small business across the country. Applications can be submitted between January 21 and March 21 for grants designated for mobile sources, arsenic control, or CSO, stormwater, and urban sediments. Applications for grants designated for all other technologies will be accepted from March 28 to May 23.

EPA's SBIR Program makes awards to small, high-tech firms for research and development of cutting-edge technologies. It is intended to spawn commercial ventures that improve our environment and quality of life, create jobs, increase productivity and economic growth, and improve the international competitiveness of the U.S. technology industry.

SBIR contracts are awarded in two phases. Phase I awards of up to $100,000 are used to prove the scientific merit and technical feasibility of the proposed concept. Phase II contracts are limited to small businesses that have successfully completed their Phase I contracts. The goal of Phase II is to complete the research and development required to commercialize the technology or product, at which point the company should not need further EPA funding. Under Phase II, EPA can award contracts of between $225,000 and $325,000.

The New England-targeted program comes as more than 100 cities and towns in New England are scrambling to find ways to control pollution coming from combined sewer overflow pipes. CSOs are sewer systems that carry sewage and stormwater in the same pipe to a sewage treatment plant. After heavy rainfalls, many of these CSO pipes overflow, causing sewage and untreated stormwater to be discharged directly into rivers and other water bodies.

This week's announcement also comes on the heels of EPA Administrator Christie Whitman's decision in October to lower the arsenic standard in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion. The deadline for complying with the 10 ppb standard is 2006.

For more information about the SBIR program see EPA HQ. Formal SBIR proposal applications will be available on the website at the start of the application period (January 21 or March 28).