The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is allocating more than $1 million to start the process of cleaning up brownfields in the state.
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A brownfield is land that might be contaminated or polluted after industrial or commercial use.
“You might have a scrap yard facility that might leave metals in the soils. So, it can be volatile, organic compounds in the soil, it can be metals, it can be a wide array of contaminants, but all of them are not good for public health if they’re over certain levels,” said Barbara Alfano, the EPA’s brownfield coordinator.
College Park and Atlanta received assessment grants to see whether certain plots of land in the city have contaminated soil.
Alfano said the grantees can expect to receive that grant money by September.
“That starts a process that starts with doing a quality assurance project plan, getting a consultant in place, writing a community engagement plan. So all those steps do take time,” she said.
This step can take up to two years to complete. And only after that can cities apply for another grant to clean up their land.
The proposed federal budget includes cuts to the EPA, so will these projects get past the assessment stage?
Alfano said she’s hopeful.
“I can’t predict the future, but historically, we’ve had annual competitions for these assessment and clean up grants for, possibly 20 years for the assessment grants and 15 years for the clean up grants,” she said. “You know, we just look to the past to hope that that’s what’s going to happen in the future.”
One of the brownfields that will get cleaned up with the current funding is the Lifecycle Building Center on Murphy Avenue in southwest Atlanta.