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"Brownfields" grant could mean new careers for locals

Release Date: 5/18/2000
Contact Information:
Kathie Atencio (303) 312-6803,

Release Date: 5/18/2000
Contact Information:
Mary Ahlstrom (303) 312-6626,

Release Date: 5/18/2000
Contact Information:
Rich Lathrop (303) 312-6780
DENVER– One hundred local residents may be on their

way to new environmental careers thanks to a $200,000

grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's

"Brownfields" program announced today.

The National Association of Black Environmentalists (NABE) will recruit mostly low-income and minority residents from Park Hill, Globeville, Swansea/Elyria, Clayton, Cole and the Five Points neighborhoods for the two-year program.

Participants will study:
heavy metals and asbestos abatement.
hazardous materials management and chemistry.
pollution and waste minimization.
assessing sites for real estate purposes.
communicating about hazards.
handling industrial spills.
the latest cleanup technologies.

Trainees will also receive the 40-hour health and safety course of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a basic requirement for almost any job on a hazardous waste site.

NABE hopes to place at least 75 of the graduates in well paying jobs and provide them with additional career support for up to five years after the training is completed.

The Denver grant is one of 16 such “pilots” approved today with a total value of $ 2.8 million. Since 1998, 37 job training grants totaling $7 million have been issued nationally. Formal cooperative agreements for the projects are still to be worked out.

Brownfields grants are part of the nation's Superfund Program which drives cleanups of hazardous waste sites. Brownfields are idled, abandoned or under-used industrial or business sites where redevelopment is complicated by possible contamination. Fears of liability and cleanup costs often thwart reuse plans. Development then goes elsewhere, leaving parcels behind to slide into blight.

Many industrial areas have enough real or perceived contamination to discourage investment but not enough risk to make it onto the national list for priority cleanup. That's where Brownfields comes in. EPA grants help communities assess tainted properties and even create loan funds to help pay for cleanups. The grants have helped more than 300 communities leverage nearly $1.9 billion for cleanup and redevelopment, creating 6,000 jobs in the process. The job training aspect has only been available since 1998.

Local organizations supporting this training program include: The Mayor's Office of Employment and Training, Front Range Community College, University of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, Urban League of Metro Denver, Northeast Park Hill Environmental Oversight Board and several environmental engineering firms.

"Many of these trainees come from areas that have more than their share of pollution. It makes sense that they should now benefit from the cleanups, many of which may occur in their own neighborhoods," said Max Dodson who directs Superfund programs in six states from EPA's Regional Office in Denver.

"Environmental cleanup is a large industry," Dodson says, "and it requires a well-trained workforce. This program can help meet part of that need."

Other contacts for this story:
Madeline Williams, NABE (720) 962-5620