(Host) The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded one million dollars to help Vermont communities clean up and improve contaminated industrial sites. The process is known as “brownfield” redevelopment. The EPA says there are thousands of sites around the country that could be used for new industry but are polluted by petroleum products or industrial waste.
The EPA grants will go to four regional planning commissions in the state. Susan Studlien of the EPA’s New England office says re-using the brownfield sites can slow the spread of suburban sprawl.
(Studlien) “These old, abandoned properties are opportunities for redevelopment. They do provide tax benefits to the local economy, while saving some of the beautiful Vermont open space from development. For every acre – and I found this statistic very, very interesting – for every acre of reclaimed brownfields, we’ve saved four and a half acres of greenspace, like parks and recreation areas.”
(Host) The Northwest Regional Planning commission received $400,000, the largest of the EPA’s grants. The commission serves 23 towns in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. Katherine Dimitruk is the commission’s executive director.
(Dimitruk) “We will be working with our towns and economic development partners to find abandoned contaminated sites either by petroleum or hazardous materials and be looking to redevelop them. We’re hoping to focus on sites that are in or adjacent to our downtowns and villages.”
(Host) Other grant recipients include the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and the Windham Regional Commission.