11/14/10 — Public meetings to identify contaminated properties planned

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Public meetings to identify contaminated properties planned

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 14, 2010 1:50 AM

The first of what is expected to be several public meetings will be held Wednesday night to help Wayne County officials identify property that might qualify for federal assistance in cleaning up soil or groundwater contamination.

The meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Wayne Center meeting room at 208 W. Chestnut St.

Wayne County earlier this year received a $400,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to assess to conduct an assessment study to determine how many abandoned industrial and commercial properties throughout the county could be considered a Brownfields site.

Those sites are property that cannot be redeveloped or reused because of the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

The grant may be used on property anywhere in the county, but is only for assessment, not clean-up.

Clean-up funds will be sought once the properties are identified, said Sue Farmer, Wayne County facilities services director.

Ms. Farmer has said she thinks there are at least 100 such sites in the county.

According to the EPA, the Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. These investments and jobs target local, under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods -- places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.

Wayne County was one of four counties in the state to receive a Brownfields grant.

Maps and demographic information will be available at Wednesday's meeting, Ms. Farmer said. She is also hoping that residents will be able to remember older sites in the county that might qualify.

"This is their (public's) time to ask questions of us," Ms. Farmer said. "We will come up with a list (of property) that is why we are asking for public input.

"We are trying to identify property with development potential. It takes away the (clean-up) liability. Once we get our list we may have a coupe of more meetings. It will be an ongoing process."

Once a list is compiled the county will be able to apply for money to clean-up the properties, she said.

The clean-up money could be set up as a revolving loan or it could come as one lump sum that the county would use to clean up as much property as it could until the funding runs out, she said.

Ms. Farmer said she is confident that the county will receive the clean-up money since it already has the assessment grant.

The county has three years in which to spend the assessment grant funding.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/ brownfields.