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"Brownfields" grant will help train Chippewas for environmental jobs

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
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Rich Lathrop (800) 227- 8917 ,

Release Date: 5/18/2000
Contact Information:
DENVER– The Turtle Mountain Community College could

begin as early as this fall preparing Chippewa trainees for

future work in the environmental field thanks to a

$200,000 job training grant from the U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency announced today. Details of the

agreement remain to be worked out.

Trainees will take one year of prerequisite courses followed by a year of specialized training in lead and asbestos cleanup, hazardous materials handling, up-to-date cleanup technologies and the 40-hour health and safety course of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The OSHA course is required for nearly all jobs on hazardous waste sites.

The program will equip the trainees for well paying jobs in the cleanup industry. The college intends to place its graduates in jobs and provide additional career support for the graduates for three years after training is completed.

Some trainees could find themselves engaged in the cleanup and redevelopment of the San Haven facility, the abandoned former State mental hospital at Dunseith in Rolette County. Last month, the Tribe received additional EPA funds to assess contamination on that property and to develop plans for the cleanup.

This grant, under job-training provisions of EPA's “Brownfields” program, was one of 16 awarded today. To date, 37 such grants have been issued nationally. Through its various brownfields grants, the Agency has helped more than 300 communities leverage nearly $1.9 billion to clean up and redevelop tainted properties, helping create nearly 6,000 jobs in the process.

Brownfields are idled, abandoned or under-used industrial or business properties where redevelopment is complicated by possible environmental contamination. Uncertainties about liability and cleanup costs often discourage reuse and redevelopment. Development then goes elsewhere, leaving parcels behind to slide into blight.

Various brownfields programs can help communities assess contamination, train workers and even create revolving loan funds to pay for cleanups. "That's all with the aim of returning these properties to productive use in their communities," according to Max Dodson who runs brownfields and Superfund programs in EPA’s Regional Office in Denver.

"Since 1998, we've been able to work with other agencies, job training organizations, colleges, labor and others to strengthen workforces through environmental training. In many brownfields areas, that also means jobs and training opportunities for local, and often low-income, residents. It seems fair that people who have lived around these contaminated sites now have the chance to benefit from their cleanup," Dodson said.

Several other organizations will be lending support to the project, including: The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, North Dakota Job Service, the Tribal Work Experience Program, Turtle Mountain News Jobs Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Tribal Job Training Partnership Act Program.