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EPA Provides Brownfields Grants to Woonsocket and Providence, Rhode Island

Brownfields Funding Leverages Jobs and Promotes Economic Redevelopment

07/11/2017
Contact Information: 
Emily Bender (bender.emily@epa.gov)
617-918-1037

BOSTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the recipients of four Brownfields grants in Rhode Island. This year, Rhode Island entities in Woonsocket received $600,000 for cleanup of brownfield sites, and the City of Providence received $200,000 for an Area Wide Planning grant.

ARTech Hub LLC will receive two grants totaling $400,000 for cleanup of hazardous substances on the two lots of the former Woonsocket Rubber Mill Company site at 68 South Main Street in Woonsocket. Both lots were formerly used as a manufacturing facility, retail space, and music and art studios, and have been vacant since 2014. They are contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds at both sites also will be used to construct and maintain engineering controls, and conduct community outreach activities.

Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corporation will receive $200,000 for cleanup of hazardous substances at the former Island Machine Company Mill at 15 Island Place, Woonsocket. The 0.4-acre cleanup site was formerly used for wheel, carriage, and harness manufacturing; planning and wood turning; and operating a tin shop. The site is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used for community outreach, cleanup planning activities, and site cleanup.

City of Providence has recently received $200,000 for an area wide planning grant. The city will work with the community and other stakeholders to develop an area-wide plan and implementation strategy for the Woonasquatucket River Industrial Corridor, as well as support site design and redevelopment options for key high-priority sites within the corridor. The city will use the area-wide planning process to convene stakeholders who are currently engaged in the project area to develop a cohesive vision that ties together numerous ongoing initiatives and redevelopment efforts.

 "EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA's Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the President's budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program."

"There are hundreds of brownfields across Rhode Island, and investing in their cleanup and redevelopment is critical," said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "Transforming these properties into cleaner, productive spaces promotes healthier and more vibrant communities and pays huge dividends for our state by accelerating economic growth and creating jobs. Kudos to our federal partners at the EPA for providing the necessary funding to move these projects forward."

"We are very excited to receive the EPA funding for our Project. It allows us to start the necessary work to remediate the environmental contamination that has held back development of the Sites for years.  The EPA funds are also a fantastic catalyst for other exciting work we have planned for this important Historic District to bring it back to life with people, economic activity and quality affordable housing."

"With this grant Providence will seize the growing momentum of the food manufacturing, design manufacturing, and arts sectors already underway in the Woonasquatucket River Corridor," said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. "We thank the EPA for their support as this will help plans to create new employment opportunities for residents and ensure that growth and redevelopment in the corridor happens in a manner that is consistent with the community's vision."

Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding a total of $10.4 million for 32 communities to assess or clean brownfields, as well as $750,000 for technical assistance to six communities. A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded 382 assessment grants totaling $103.9 million, 73 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $90 million and 290 cleanup grants totaling $69.9 million. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $2.4 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for nearly 15,499 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America.  As of May 2017, more than 124,759 jobs and $24 billion of public and private funding has been leveraged as a result of assessment grants and other EPA Brownfields grants. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.

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