DETROIT-The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded seven agencies in Michigan $2.45 million for brownfield redevelopment projects and community outreach programs.

Brownfield contamination can be a serious problem, both environmentally and economically. Because brownfields are idle or abandoned industrial properties with real or perceived contamination, expansion and redevelopment by local industry is rare.

With Michigan’s numerous automotive supply plants and chemical industries, there are many old contaminated parcels to clean. By providing grants to these communities, the EPA is helping to fund the redevelopment of the land, said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan. “Redeveloping brownfields can be engines for great economic development,” said Levin, co-chair of the Senate Smart Growth Task Force. “They represent new opportunities in our cities, older suburbs and rural areas for housing, jobs and recreation.”

The city of Allegan will receive $250,000 to fund the cleanup of numerous hazardous substances from brownfields in its downtown area.

Jackson is getting $200,000 to fund the cleanup of the former Acme Industries complex in Jackson. The riverfront property is contaminated with numerous solvents, oils and heavy metals. The site will be cleaned by Aerospace Projects, and is the planned home for the Armory Park Arts Project, which will create studio space for artists and provide educational, cultural and recreational opportunities for residents.

Bay City will receive $200,000 to fund the cleanup of petroleum contamination at the Labadie property. The city intends to renovate the property and incorporate it into their Uptown at RiversEdge waterfront redevelopment project.

The Downriver Community Conference and the Lansing Brownfields Redevelopment Authority will receive $600,000 to conduct Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments of priority sites in 11 cities.

Focus: Hope, a non-profit group based in Detroit, will receive $200,000 to help cleanup the deteriorated Federal Engineering Building at 850 Oakman Blvd. in the city. Assessments of the site have identified numerous contaminants, including asbestos, transformers, process waste pits, slumps with unknown contents, and the possible existence of underground storage tanks. Cleanup of the site will provide access for parking for the adjacent Yellow Pages building, which will house the group’s Information Technology Center.

Finally, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will receive $1 million in order to provide loans and grants to small and economically distressed communities for cleanup of hazardous materials and other contaminants in small and rural communities.

“It makes environmental, economic and common sense to clean up and bring new uses to brownfields,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow said. “These federal grants will help Michigan communities create jobs and increase their tax base by helping them to clean up local abandoned residential and commercial property and make it available for new investment.”

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