Webinar: Reuse Opportunities at Capped Superfund Sites

July 16, 2014, 1-3 PM CDT
Register here

Former landfills, abandoned dumps and other contaminated sites throughout the United States were once thought to be of limited or no value. Today, these sites are being transformed into viable commercial and industrial developments, recreational areas and wildlife areas. With forethought, coordination with regulatory agencies, and effective planning, communities and site stakeholders can return sites to productive use without jeopardizing the effectiveness of a remedial cap put into place to protect human health and the environment. Reuse can provide long-term benefits for the local community, the local government, site owners and even for EPA through continued site stewardship after remedial efforts are complete. This webinar will share examples and lessons learned from the effective assessment and successful reuse of capped sites.

From mines to megawatts: The promise of ‘conflict-free Big Solar’

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Arizona startup Green Energy Storage wants to transform an abandoned open-pit copper mine 45 miles south of Phoenix into a large-scale solar power and pumped-hydro storage facility.

Although still in the early days of development, the project (PDF), first pitched to federal energy regulators two weeks ago, could become a model for conflict-free Big Solar.

After all, contaminated former industrial sites and other degraded lands represent a relatively untapped opportunity for developers to steer clear of the litigious environmental conflicts and tradeoffs associated with large-scale solar power in ecologically sensitive and pristine areas.

How the Power of Cooperation Transformed a Vacant Lot in South Chicago

Read the full post at Shareable.

In 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency remediated a piece of vacant land in the Pullman neighborhood, which is located on the far South Side of Chicago near the Indiana border. The area was left vacant after a Sherwin Williams processing plant closed, and the building burnt down in the 1990’s. Like many vacant lots in cities across America, the land at 114th and Langley became a haven for crime and was contaminated with toxic chemicals. That is until Sunday, September 22nd when members and supporters of the Coop Op unveiled their new garden and community resource.

U of C computer researchers will have a hand in South Works remake

Read the full story in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Crain’s takes a look at a project called LakeSim that will help planners at Skidmore Owings & Merrill remake the massive old U.S. Steel South Works plant on the Far South Side. By marrying computer-assisted design software with computer-modeling software, computer researchers at the Computation Institute run by the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory will help planners see how design changes in buildings, infrastructure or even zoning will impact energy and water usage, stormwater management and transportation demands nearby and throughout other parts of the city.


EPA Screens More Than 66,000 Contaminated Sites for Renewable Energy Potential

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its RE-Powering Mapping and Screening Tool, which will now provide preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential at 66,000, up from 24,000, contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites across the country. The RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, started by EPA in 2008, encourages development of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land, landfills and mine sites when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.

“We see responsible renewable energy development on contaminated lands and landfills as a win-win-win for the nation, local communities, and the environment,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “In President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the administration set a goal to double renewable electricity generation by 2020. By identifying the renewable energy potential of contaminated sites across the country, these screening results are a good step toward meeting national renewable energy goals in order to address climate change, while also cleaning up and revitalizing contaminated lands in our communities.”

Pulling from EPA databases of potentially and formerly contaminated lands, as well as partnering with state agencies from California, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, and Virginia, the RE-Powering Initiative expanded the universe of sites from 24,000 to more than 66,000 sites. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), RE-Powering developed screening criteria for solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal potential at various levels of development. The sites are tracked by EPA and selected state agencies.

The updated screening provides insight into the significant potential for renewable energy generation on contaminated lands and landfills nationwide. For solar energy alone, EPA identified over 10,000 contaminated sites with the potential to install a 300-kilowatt solar array or greater. Based on mapped acreage, these sites could cumulatively host solar energy systems that capture greater than 30 times more solar energy than all renewable energy systems operating in the United States today.

The RE-Powering Initiative supports the transformation of liabilities into assets for surrounding communities. Since RE-Powering’s inception, more than 70 renewable energy projects have been installed on contaminated lands or landfills. These early projects represent just over 200 MW of installed capacity, which could power approximately 30,000 homes, and provide a foundation for future development as demonstrations of the latest technologies in both renewable energy and remediation design.

In 2013, RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative was recognized as one of the Top 25 Innovations in American Government by Harvard University. This award program is one of the nation’s most prestigious and highlights exemplary models of government innovation and efforts to address the nation’s most pressing public concerns.

Governor Quinn Tours Mud-to-Parks Site in Chicago (USA)

Read the full story in Dredging Today.

Governor Pat Quinn visited an old steel mill site to showcase the final phase of the innovative Mud-to-Parks program, which makes use of reclaimed topsoil dredged from the Illinois River to create a new park near Lake Michigan. Mud-to-Parks is a component of Governor Quinn’s Millennium Reserve Initiative to restore habitat, rehabilitate brownfields and create green space in Chicago’s South and Southeast Side and south suburbs.

How Milwaukee Became a Center for Water Innovation

Read the full story in Governing.

The world needs water, and Milwaukee has it. More specifically, Milwaukee has water innovation. So the city is transforming itself from an old industrial center into a center for water research and technology.

EPA Provides Tools for Sustainable Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a first-of-its kind report showing how low-income, minority and tribal communities can apply smart growth land use and development strategies to create healthy communities, spur economic growth and protect the environment.

The Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities report describes how low-income, minority, and tribal communities can employ smart growth strategies to clean up and reinvest in existing neighborhoods; provide affordable housing and transportation; and improve access to jobs, parks and stores. The report also provides smart growth practitioners with concrete ideas on how they can better meet the needs of low-income residents as they promote development or redevelopment in underserved communities.

“The way communities are designed and built has an important influence on public health, the quality of our air and water, and economic vitality,” said Michael Goo, associate administrator for EPA’s Office of Policy. “EPA hopes this report will help smart growth and environmental justice advocates work together more effectively to achieve the best results possible for communities.”

“Historically, environmental justice and smart growth have been viewed as separate interests, yet communities across the U.S. are showing that they are actually complementary,” said Lisa Garcia, associate assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. “Combining these principles and focusing on equitable development can help community-based organizations, local planners, and other stakeholders achieve healthy and sustainable communities for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.”

The report also features
case studies on seven communities across the country that have used the strategies described in the report. These strategies include:

  • designing safe streets for all users
  • cleaning and reusing contaminated properties
  • reducing exposure to facilities with potential environmental concerns
  • fixing existing infrastructure before investing in new projects
  • preserving affordable housing

The Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities report was developed by EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and Office of Sustainable Communities.

EPA Announces $69.3 Million to Clean Up Contaminated Sites and Revitalize Communities

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $69.3 million in grants for new investments to provide communities with funding necessary to clean and redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies and create jobs while protecting public health.

“Restored Brownfield properties can serve as cornerstones for rebuilding struggling communities. These grants will be the first step in getting pollution out and putting jobs back into neighborhoods across the country,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Clean, healthy communities are places where people want to live, work and start businesses. We’re providing targeted resources to help local partners transform blighted, contaminated areas into centers of economic growth.”

The 245 grantees include tribes and communities in 39 states across the country, funded by EPA’s Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (ARC) grants, and Revolving Loan Fund Supplemental grants. The grants awarded will assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Nearly half of the grantees this year are new awardees who demonstrate a high level of commitment for undertaking specific projects and leveraging the funding to move those projects forward.

Highlights of the projects planned by grant recipients:

  • DeKalb County, Ga. plans to clean up and redevelop major industrial areas served by transit and infrastructure in community areas, in addition to expanding greenspace and community-based development. One important revitalization effort is targeted for the General Motors Assembly Plant (closed in 2008), which sits at the convergence of two major corridors and the Doraville MARTA Station. Upon redevelopment, the project will reduce blight and increase the local tax base.
  • Toledo, Ohio (Coalition) will use the awarded assessment grant funding to revitalize under-served neighborhoods and create local jobs at two proposed projects. The Coalition will investigate properties in the Cherry Street Corridor/Summit Street Redevelopment area to allow for the expansion of St. Vincent’s Hospital and Central Catholic High School. Secondly, the Fernwood Growing Center Area, located in an underserved, low income neighborhood, will be expanded by at least two additional sites for the use of urban agriculture.
  • Paul Cuffee School, a maritime charter school for Providence public school children in Rhode Island, is receiving two EPA cleanup grants to clean and redevelop adjacent properties for a new parking lot and athletic field for students.
  • Land-of-Sky, a local government planning and development organization located in N.C., will use grant funds awarded to rehabilitate the Chatham Site, a former manufacturing plant, a mill and a Western electric plant into approximately 150 multifamily rental units. The project may result in leveraging additional funding, including New Markets Tax Credits, construction permanent loans, Federal Historic Tax Credit equity, NC Mill Rehab Tax Credit equity and deferred development fees. Assessments have been completed and the project is ready to begin redevelopment.
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will provide a loan from its Revolving Loan Fund to the city of Kenosha for the cleanup of the Kenosha Engine Plant Cleaning site, a former Chrysler/American Motors plant. The site, once the pride of southeastern Wisconsin, will provide the community the opportunity to market the site to private investors that could bring jobs and tax revenue to the community.

Approximately 29 percent of the grants are being awarded to non-urban areas with populations of 100,000 or less, 16 percent are being awarded to “micro” communities with populations of 10,000 or less, and the remaining grants are being awarded to urban areas with populations exceeding 100,000.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. In 2011, EPA’s brownfields program leveraged 6,447 jobs and $2.14 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funds. Since its inception EPA’s brownfields investments have leveraged more than $18.3 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding from a variety of public and private sources and have resulted in approximately 75,500 jobs. More than 18,000 properties have been assessed, and over 700 properties have been cleaned up. Brownfields grants also target under-served and low income neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.