EPA Selects Three Projects in Maine to Receive $1.3 Million for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment
EPA Brownfields Funding Helps Local Communities Build Back Better and Address Environmental Justice Concerns
BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that three grantees in the state of Maine have been selected to receive $1.3 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency's Brownfields Program. These funds will support under-served and economically disadvantaged communities around the state in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. The Maine grant award announcements are among 151 communities across the nation to receive 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.
"Through our Brownfields Program, EPA is delivering on the Biden Administration's commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America, especially communities that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and decay," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "These assessment and cleanup grants will not only support economic growth and job creation, but they will also empower communities to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land."
"These new EPA Brownfields funds are more important than ever, because the ongoing pandemic has impacted the economy and redevelopment throughout New England," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "Today's investment of EPA Brownfields assessment and cleanup funding provides a much-needed boost for economic development and job creation in many of New England's hardest hit and underserved communities."
EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for projects in Maine:
Our Katahdin, Millinocket, ME: This group will be awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant to clean up the 7,500 square feet Research Building on the Former Great Northern Paper Company (GNP) complex located at 1 Katahdin Avenue in the Town of Millinocket. The building was formerly used as a research and testing center for the paper company and has been unoccupied since 2008. It is contaminated with heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to support community outreach activities.
"These EPA funds will allow us to clean up the Pilot Plant within the Engineering & Research complex of the former Great Northern Paper mill in Millinocket, Maine, thereby offering a viable new space to support light manufacturing," said Sean DeWitt, President of Our Katahdin, the non-profit owner of the former Great Northern Paper Mill in Millinocket ME.
Penobscot Indian Nation, Penobscot Indian Island Reservation, ME: This tribal nation will be awarded a $300,000 Assessment Grant. The EPA Brownfields Community-wide Assessment grant funds will be used to conduct Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental site assessments, develop cleanup and re-use plans, and support community outreach activities for various tribal properties. Important sites which the Tribe anticipates focusing on include the former Sockalexis Bingo Palace, an underused former bingo facility on Indian Island and on six Penobscot River Islands adjacent to a former pulp and paper mill in the Town of Lincoln. The islands near Lincoln once housed a school, camps, and residences, but these have all been abandoned.
"This award and the unceasing help of the EPA means an ability to heal and restore the lands of our children, our children's children, and the many generations to come," said Sean O'Brien, Brownfields Coordinator of Penobscot Indian Nation.
Washington County Development Authority, Cutler, ME: This group will be awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant to clean up the Former Navy Recreation Building located at 1549 Cutler Road. The Recreation Building is a 19,285 square foot one-story building that was built in 1964 and shuttered in 2002 when the Navy communications base was decommissioned. The building includes a former restaurant, bowling alley, basketball court/gymnasium, racquetball court, locker rooms, office, a small store, a storage room, and a mechanical room. The building is contaminated with PCBs, heavy metals, and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities.
"The Washington County Development Authority is most appreciative of the support of EPA in the efforts to restore a prime recreational building to the community and the County. This grant award allows the WCDA to make a bold statement of commitment to Washington County," said Betsy Fitzgerald, Board Chair of the Washington County Development Authority.
EPA's Brownfields grants and assistance to Maine this year are among other significant annual investments by EPA to help New England communities to address brownfield properties. Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding a total of $ 8.1 million for 18 communities to assess or clean contaminated brownfields sites.
"By supporting efforts to revitalize contaminated brownfields, we can succeed in both bolstering local economies while also improving our environment," said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. "When we remove hazardous materials and substances from long-abandoned facilities, those lands can be repurposed into areas that will support Maine families and strengthen our communities – creating jobs and new opportunities in rural regions. We welcome this funding from the EPA to help these three communities safely renew land, turning these hazardous sites into productive spaces that will sustain their economy."
"EPA Brownfield assessment and cleanup grants like these fuel regional planning and economic redevelopment projects in some of Maine's most economically impacted communities," said Melanie Loyzim, Maine DEP Commissioner.
In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded $123 million in assessment grant funding, $112 million in revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding and $82 million in cleanup grant funding. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $3.78 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 22,846 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example,
- To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. This has led to over 175,500 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.13 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15.2% as a result of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
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 United States. EPAs Brownfields program has proven time and again that investing in properties like these unlocks their potential to improve the environmental, economic, and social fabric of communities.
Brownfields in New England: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-and-land-revitalization-region-1
The list of the fiscal year 2021 applicants selected for funding is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2021-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants
EPA anticipates that it will award the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied by the selected recipients.
Basic Information on EPA's Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
Types of EPA Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-epa-brownfield-grant-funding