PICKENS — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this morning they have selected 144 communities, including seven in South Carolina, for Brownfields environmental Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup grants.
In total, 221 grants totaling $54.3 million will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment. Of this total, approximately $8.9 million went to 36 communities in the southeast — and one went to the City of Pickens.
“EPA’s Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These grants leverage other public and private investments, and improve local economies through property cleanup and redevelopment.”
“Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and provide assistance where environmental cleanup and new job opportunities are needed,” said Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn. “These funds mean a great deal to these communities.”
Pickens received $300,000 ($200,000 for hazardous substances and $100,000 for petroleum) in hazardous substances and petroleum grant funds to be used to conduct environmental site assessments and develop cleanup plans.
Grant funds will also be used to prepare an inventory of brownfields, prioritize sites and conduct charrettes and visioning sessions, officials said.
“The State of South Carolina is thrilled with the news of the $2,200,000 EPA Brownfields grant,” said Myra C. Reece, Director of Environmental Affairs, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. “This is a tremendous opportunity to coordinate with our federal partners to begin the process of bringing abandoned or underutilized properties back as meaningful assets in our state.”
The other South Carolina recipients to receive funding for community-wide Brownfields assessment activities and cleanup planning include Aiken; Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Chester, Lancaster, Union, and York Counties and Clinton.
In the Upstate, Greenville also landed $300,000 for environmental site assessments, to develop cleanup plans and conduct community outreach activities.
Assessment activities will target the city’s Reedy River Redevelopment Area, they said.
The City of Greenwood was granted $200,000 and The Pelzer Heritage Commission in Pelzer received $200,000 in hazardous substances grant funds to be used to clean up the former Upper Pelzer Mill located at the intersection of Smythe and Stevenson Streets.
Grant funds will also be used to develop a community involvement plan and support community outreach activities, officials said.
The Brownfields Program targets communities that are economically disadvantaged and provides funding and assistance to transform blighted sites into assets that can generate jobs and spur economic growth.
A study analyzing 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup — this is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these brownfield sites, officials state.
Furthermore, another study found that property values of homes located near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent after cleanup.
In addition, communities can use Brownfields funding to leverage water infrastructure loans and other financial resources. For example, EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used, under certain conditions, to address the water quality aspects of brownfield sites and the assessment and construction of drinking water infrastructure on brownfields, respectively.
EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program may also serve as a potential source of long-term, low-cost supplemental financing to fund brownfields project development and implementation activities to address water quality aspects of brownfields, they said.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.