(WKBW release) -- On Monday, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Environmental Protection Agency will provide $400,000 to Niagara County to conduct a county-wide assessment of over 300 brownfields that are contaminated by hazardous substances and petroleum.
The EPA investment will be used to conduct numerous environmental site assessments, and to support community outreach activities. Petroleum grant funds will be used to conduct the same tasks at sites with potential petroleum contamination.
Schumer applauds the EPA’s investment in Niagara County, and vows to push for further support at other New York cleanup sites.
“Investing in the cleanup of over 300 sites in Niagara County is smart on the short term for the health of Niagara residents, and for the long term economic revitalization of the region,” said Schumer. “This program will help speed up expansion and development that has been brought to a halt in Niagara due to the hazardous substances and contaminants in the area. Cleaning up the sites will help create jobs and provide the opportunity for economic expansion.”
Niagara County has inventoried and identified over 300 brownfield sites, mostly located at facilities which were manufacturers of steel, ceramics, and paper at one time. The county's population has declined by nine percent since the 1960s, which is attributed to the downsizing and closing of many of these manufacturing facilities that employed a significant portion of the county's workforce. Brownfield assessments are expected to strengthen revitalization efforts already under way, and will support the Niagara River Greenway Plan that promotes sustainability, recreational opportunities, and enhanced water access.
The Brownfields Program was created by Congress in 2002. It helps states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize properties that may be contaminated and are not currently being put to productive use. EPA’s Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.
Schumer applauds the EPA’s announcement of more than $76 million in new investments across the country that will redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies and help create jobs while protecting public health. Since its inception, EPA’s brownfields investments have leveraged more than $16.3 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding from a variety of public and private sources, and resulted in approximately 70,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
EPA is selecting 214 grants through the Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants programs that will go to 40 states and three tribes across the country.