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Government agency allocates $300 million to clean up contamination from former industrial sites: 'It will be safer'

"It's the highest level of funding and support for brownfields that we've seen."

"It's the highest level of funding and support for brownfields that we’ve seen."

Photo Credit: iStock

In an effort to clean up 200 industrial sites across the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new $300 million set of funds, the Guardian reported in May.

"It's the highest level of funding and support for brownfields that we've seen," said communications manager for the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) Lauren Ghazikhanian.

Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — which included a historic action aimed at improving the U.S.'s drinking water quality and wastewater infrastructure — spending for remediating brownfields has quadrupled, the news outlet reported. 

Brownfields are contaminated environmental areas that were usually previously industrial sites. Since hazardous pollutants were once dumped onto these sites, brownfields are difficult to reuse and pose a serious health risk to the surrounding communities. 

A study that reviewed relevant research about brownfields and their impact on health found a strong positive correlation between poor health and brownfield land in a community. As a result, restoring these contaminated sites is a way to improve the entire community's health. 

From an economic standpoint, brownfield remediation increases the area's property value and supports business growth.  

Over the past 30 years, the EPA has connected with local partners to redevelop thousands of brownfields into safe community spaces, per the Guardian. EPA officials have recently identified additional brownfields they plan on restoring with the funds. 

Michael Regan, EPA administrator, said at an event reported on by the Guardian that his agency plans to restore a brownfield in southwest Philadelphia's Kingsessing neighborhood. The site used to be an oil station and is now contaminated with lead and semi-volatile organic compounds. 

However, Michael and his team are allocating $2 million to safely redevelop the site into office buildings with a waterfront bike trail.

The EPA also announced $14 million will go toward environmental job training grants, which are a part of the agency's brownfields job training program. Remediating former brownfield sites is also a major step toward a cleaner, more sustainable future. As the contaminated land is revitalized, the local habitat is also restored, creating a space for wildlife and plants to thrive. 

Residents of the Philadelphia community were excited to learn of the new project dedicated to restoring the site. Upon hearing that the area would offer more access to the Schuylkill River, locals discussed the benefits the redevelopment would bring to the community. 

"That'll be real nice, since you won't have to go through the streets and all that," resident Shone London said, per the Guardian. "It will be safer."

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