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Release Date: 8/7/1997
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), DePaul University, the city of East Palo Alto, and a private environmental cleanup firm are offering East Palo Alto area residents technical training in handling hazardous waste cleanup to provide marketable skills that could lead to job opportunities with Bay Area industries.

     "This is an innovative public-private partnership that offers an excellent opportunity for residents of the East Palo Alto area to get hands-on training, and for private industry to hire these skilled individuals," said Keith Takata, U.S. EPA's Superfund director.

     To help fund the training program, U.S. EPA has provided $60,000 to DePaul University through an existing grant that the university has with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

     "We are thrilled to be part of this national pilot," said Jerry Groomes, East Palo Alto city manager. "It is another tangible result of the extremely beneficial relationship between the city of East Palo Alto and U.S. EPA which has developed over the past two years."  

     The job training and placement program is part of U.S. EPA's national Brownfields Initiative. The Ravenswood industrial area of East Palo Alto has been named a U.S. EPA brownsfield pilot project. The brownsfield initiative is designed to encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of former industrial and commercial properties known as brownfields and to discourage the siting of industrial sites in rural, pristine areas.

     Through the training program, DePaul University, U.S. EPA, and Opportunities Industrialization Center West, an environmental training firm, will provide a total of 350 hours of hazardous materials training beginning August 11, 1997. This training will include how to clean up lead-contaminated soils, asbestos contamination and underground storage tanks, and how to respond to releases of hazardous substances.

     After the training ends September 19, the students will have three months of paid on-the-job training doing clean up work at South Bay industries. The primary goal of the program is to have these industries hire the youths full-time after their on-the-job work ends.

     The U.S. EPA is pursuing additional funding that would allow additional training next year. Residents interested in signing up for the training program can contact Thomas Mix with U.S. EPA at (415) 744-2378.

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