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Brooke County brownfield assistance program receives grants

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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protectionhas been awarded $225,000 from the federal government's Targeted BrownfieldAssistance program for Phase I and Phase II assessments at a publicly ownedindustrial park in Brooke County.

The environmentalassessments will be done at the Business DevelopmentCorp. of the Northern Panhandle'sBeech Bottom property and will address all land and buildings between WestVirginia Route 2 and the Ohio River.

Phase I assessments involve a historical investigation andpreliminary site inspection. In Phase II, sampling is done to identify thetypes and concentrations of contaminants and the areas to be cleaned.

This is the third USEPA grant funding stream awarded forproperties owned by the BDC, Executive Director Pat Ford said.

"If it were not for this money and, more importantly U.S.Environmental Protection Agency's commitment to give our region thetechnical support we need to reclaim these environmentally challengedproperties, we would not have been able to realize the success we have had withadding much-needed land to our real estate inventory," Ford said. "It's led tothe successful recruitment of more than a half dozen new industries to ourregion.

"We've seen almost $20 million in new investment since U.S.EPA first invested in our area four years ago."

He said the federal funding helps assess properties, "and ifthey need cleaned up, they're cleaned up."

"The studies giveprospects the confidence to invest in environmentally challenged propertieshere. That's what's critical," Ford said. "That money helps us do whatever isnecessary to instill confidence in industries and investors who come to Brookeand Hancock County.

"It removes the risk. We can actually give them a report thattells them the materials, whether they're petroleum-based or hazard-based, andif the amount is so nominal no further action needed, or if there's somethingthat has to be removed. And if there is something that has to be removed, thenthere is an opportunity to partner with U.S. EPA to get money to clean it."

Ford said U.S. EPA alsoprovides free technical advice about the potential exposure in taking on achallenged property.

"They give me an ideawhat's below the ground, what's it's going to take to identify and clean it up,and then I can take that information back to my board of directors," he said."It gives them the information they need to decide whether to proceed with a siteacquisition."

Previously, the BDC was awarded roughly $80,000 for a PhaseII environmental assessment and a Phase II sampling and analysis plan at theformer Taylor,Smith & Taylor pottery site in Chester. Funds also were used toenter the site into the West Virginia Voluntary Remediation Program.

The BDC also received a $200,000 U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency clean-up grant.

To date, Ford said, the TS&T site has received nearly$1.1 million for site acquisition, remediation, clean-up, planning andmarketing. The organization also has applied for another USEPA grant for a SiteSpecific Assessment Grant to perform a Phase 2 environmental assessment of theriver bank at the TS&T site.

Ford credits the BDC'scollaboration with USEPA, WVDEP, Brooke-Hancock-JeffersonMetropolitan Planning Commissionand the Brooke-Hancock Brownfield Task Force for the opportunity. He said redevelopingbrownfields in river towns in the Ohio River Valley, particularly in Brooke andHancock counties, is making it possible for the community to accommodate thereal estate demands created by economic growth in the region.

He said, to date, U.S. EPA has awarded $800,000 in communityassessment grants to BHJ: $225,000 for the targeted brownfield assessment grantfor the BDC's Beech Bottom plant to WVDEP and $200,000 for the clean up grantto the BDC for the BDC's TS&T site.

"This $1.225 million in USEPA funding has leveraged over $20million of private investment," he said. "We want the community to know thepositive impact of the U.S. EPA. This illustrates the importance ofcollaboration at the local, state and federal level."