CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) Division of Land Restoration (DLR) will receive a $2 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess brownfield properties for hazardous substance impacts in three target areas throughout the state. These target areas include the Southern Coalfields Region, the Ohio River Valley Region, and the Potomac Highlands Region.
The WVDEP joined EPA Region 3 Administrator Adam Ortiz to make the announcement earlier this week in Fairmont.
Assessing these contaminated – or perceived to be contaminated – abandoned and underutilized sites eliminates a barrier for redevelopment and ultimately returns properties to productive and beneficial uses. The grant will be administered by the DLR’s Office of Environmental Remediation.
"We like to say that we 'turn community liabilities into community assets,'" said WVDEP Deputy Director of Remediation Programs, Casey Korbini. "$2 million is a huge opportunity for our state, so we can only imagine the number of communities we'll be able to assess and the impact we're going to be able to make in our state. The economic development opportunities, the community enhancement projects that we'll be able to fund or start to fund...it's such an exciting day for our state."
The focus of the WVDEP’s grant application included three target areas throughout the state, with five specific counties within each target area. These counties include Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, and Wyoming in the Southern Coalfields Region; Jackson, Pleasants, Tyler, Wood, and Wetzel Counties in the Ohio River Valley Region; and, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton Counties in the Potomac Highlands Region. However, grant funding can be utilized anywhere in the state.
Since 2009, the WVDEP has been awarded and spent approximately $1.4 million for brownfield site assessments. The funding often goes to small communities who cannot administer their own grants.
"What we find in every single corner of West Virginia are people who are rolling up their sleeves, people who are here to work, people who are here to revitalize and be completely invested in their communities," said Ortiz. "Our role is to help."
Four other entities in West Virginia also received EPA Brownfields Grants, bringing the total awarded in West Virginia to $3.878 million.
WVDEP is engaged with local partners to identify potential brownfield sites for assessment and redevelopment. These partners include the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers at Marshall University and West Virginia University, the West Virginia Rivers Watershed Network, and the West Virginia Community Development Hub.
The other entities that received EPA Brownfields Grants in the state are:
Fayette County Commission ($378,917): Grant funding will be used to conduct environmental assessments and reuse plans and conduct community outreach activities, primarily in the City of Oak Hill’s downtown corridor.
Lewis County Commission ($500,000): Grant funds will be used to conduct environmental assessments and cleanup plans and community engagement activities, primarily in the City of Weston and the Town of Jane Lew.
Morgantown Utility Board ($500,000): Grant funds will be used to clean up the former Dinsmore Tire site in Morgantown, as well as conduct community involvement activities and quarterly meetings.
Paden City Development Authority ($500,000): Grant funds will be used to conduct environmental assessments and reuse plans, as well as community involvement activities, within the City of Paden City.
More information about the WVDEP’s Brownfields Assistance Program is available