Brownfield Cleanup – Largest Ever EPA Investment of Its Type

Brownfield Cleanup – Largest Ever EPA Investment of Its Type

What’s a brownfield site? We didn’t know what they were either when we’d heard about a record-setting amount of federal dollars that just came to Indiana to help clean up these locations. The EPA just made its largest investment ever in brownfield communities when it allotted $8 million dollars to our state through the Investing in America Agenda. That money could bring a lot of opportunities to Hoosier communities and help remediate many underutilized properties.

According to the federal definition, a brownfield is a location that could be redeveloped if existing contaminants were dealt with first. Repurposing these sites “may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

In other words, brownfields are basically a barrier to economic growth. The EPA estimates there are more than 450,000 of these locations throughout the country, hundreds of which are in Indiana. A speckled map of our state’s brownfields can be viewed online, showing spots in every corner of Indiana that are in need of a cleanup.

Reinvesting in these sites has been shown to pay off. For example, it’s estimated that projects leveraged $20.43 for every federal dollar spent on cleanup. Residential property values near these sites can increase 5% to 15.2% as well, which is a considerable benefit to local municipalities.


Expediting Cleanup, $8M

This summer, the EPA selected eight communities in Indiana to receive eight grants totaling $5,066,000 in competitive brownfield funding. This money arrived through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. Combined with the boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this is the largest ever funding awarded in the history of the EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs.

In addition, $3 million in non-competitive supplemental funding was awarded an existing Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grant program in Indiana to extend the program’s capacity to provide more funding for additional cleanups.

“These projects improve public health and the environment, but they also help lay the groundwork for future development and economic activity in what was once unusable land,” said Representative André Carson from Indiana’s 7th congressional district.


Funding Breakdown

The following organizations in Indiana have been selected to receive brownfield funding:

  1. CDFI Friendly Bloomington, $500,000 grant – Priority sites include a 2.7-acre former petroleum plant, two former commercial buildings, a former light industrial shop, and a former auto and truck service facility.
  2. City of Huntington, $991,000 grant – Cleaning up the former H.K. Porter site. From 1924 until 2000, Asbestos Manufacturing Inc. made automotive parts at the site, resulting in inorganic contamination.
  3. Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission, $500,000 grant – Priority sites include the Old Crawford County Courthouse, a former wastewater treatment plant, the former Jasper Seating/Indiana Furniture manufacturing site, the former Perry County Hospital, a 400-acre mine-scarred tract of land, and a former cheese factory.
  4. City of Indianapolis, $975,000 grant – Cleaning up the former Advance Plating site. The site is currently abandoned and contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, cyanide, and metals.
  5. City of Lawrence, $400,000 grant – Priority sites include a former steel fabricator, vacant buildings formerly occupied by a technology company and electrical contractors, a vacant paved lot, and a vacant former industrial warehouse.
  6. City of Logansport, $400,000 grant – Priority sites include a former battery plant, a former tire factory, a former industrial warehouse, a former Sears Auto, and a former retail site.
  7. North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council, $500,000 grant – Priority sites include a 10-acre former heating plant, the 10-acre former Randolph School, the 124-acre former Alert Billets Air Force Base, a former clothing factory, and the former Rochester Heat Treating facility.
  8. River Heritage Conservancy, $800,000 grant – Work will be targeted to Census tract 504.01, an area with neighborhoods adjacent to 400 acres of brownfields including junkyards, open dumps, auto salvage yards, recycling facilities, and sites with other industrial uses.

And finally, the Indiana Finance Authority Brownfield RLF will receive an additional $3 million to continue their ongoing work. Potential new projects may include the Roundhouse site in Elkhart and the Former Bowser Pump property in Fort Wayne. The new funding will extend the program’s capacity to help finance more cleanups in the most underserved areas in the State of Indiana.


Tidying Up

Once all of the brownfield sites on this lengthy list are remediated, they’re going to open up all kinds of new doors for investment and economic development. We could be seeing all kinds of new projects spring up as a result of this effort in the future, so it’s definitely going to be the start of something great for Indiana. It’s incredible what a little tidying up may accomplish for our communities.

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