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Grants Awarded to Clean Up Pollution from Underground Storage Tanks and Revitalize Neighborhoods

Release Date: 7/1/2002
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Linda F. Fisher today announced 40 pilot grants totaling $3.8 million to 26 states and three tribes to clean up properties contaminated from leaking underground storage tanks (UST). Two $100,000 grants were awarded for Pennsylvania pilots – one in Philadelphia and one in Lancaster County.

At an event in Philadelphia today, Fisher was joined by mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh, Pennsylvania DEP Executive Deputy Barbara Sexton;
James J. Cuorato, City of Philadelphia director of commerce; and members of the Hispanic community who will benefit from the Philadelphia redevelopment grant. These include representatives from Taller Puertorriqueno, Inc. and Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM).

Welsh said, “Earlier today I looked at this abandoned gas station and then went inside Taller’s building to see the beautiful art work. On one hand, you have a thriving cultural community center, and the other a neighborhood eyesore. With federal, state, local and private partners we can turn these eyesores into neighborhood assets and protect our water resources from possible petroleum contamination.”

EPA has been extremely successful cleaning sites called brownfields, where redevelopment is complicated by perceived or actual pollution. Brownfields has been unable to address sites for redevelopment which may have perceived or actual contamination from petroleum that has leaked from underground storage tanks. The new pilots, called USTfileds, will do just that.

PaDEP and the City of Philadelphia will assess and cleanup three abandoned gas stations in Philadelphia’s empowerment zone at 5th Street and Lehigh Avenue; 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue; and 2441-45 Germantown Avenue.

Once the cleanup is complete, Taller Puertorriqueno, plans to re-use 5th and Lehigh for office space for their cultural and educational center and additional parking; Asociacion de Puertorriqquenos en Marcha (APM) intends to use 52nd and Parkside as a parking lot; and City officials are in discussions to develop the Germantown Avenue site into a service station and mini-market which will create part-time and full-time jobs.

"The department is pleased to be a partner in this important initiative, that will have a profound impact on the quality of life for so many people who live along the 5th Street corridor," said Barbara Sexton, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection executive deputy secretary for policy and communication.

PaDEP will also receive $100,000 to work with Lancaster County to assess and clean up sites that are contaminated by petroleum. The primary site is in a Pennsylvania Keystone Opportunity Zone, located in close proximity to an elementary school and a quarter-mile from the Conestoga River, a tributary of the Susquehanna River.

These grants spur partnerships among state and local governments, community groups, investors and developers to get sites cleaned up and ready for community use instead of remaining a liability to the community and a continuing threat to public health and the environment.

Earlier this year, President Bush signed bipartisan legislation that will encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of old industrial properties, including abandoned underground storage tanks – cleaning up the environment and creating jobs. In addition, the President’s fiscal year 2003 budget request doubled the funds available through EPA in fiscal year 2002 – from $98 billion to $200 million – to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize browfields and USTfields properties.

With today’s announcement EPA has awarded 50 USTfields pilots nationwide. For additional information about USTfields, see