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EPA grants $900K to 3 Puerto Rico towns for Brownfields Cleanup and assessment

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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that three municipalities in Puerto Rico have been selected to receive a total of $900,000 to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program.

The towns of Barranquitas, Guaynabo and Vega Alta will equally split the money assigned to Puerto Rico.

Nationwide, 151 communities will receive 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in EPA Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) grants, it confirmed.

This funding will support underserved and economically disadvantaged communities across the country in assessing and cleaning up contaminated and abandoned industrial and commercial properties.

About 50% of selected recipients will be receiving EPA Brownfields Grant funding for the first time and more than 85% are located in or serving small communities.

“Cleaning up brownfields helps protect the environment and serves as a catalyst to jumpstart much needed economic growth in Puerto Rico communities, often in historically underserved areas,” said EPA acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan.

“These grants address decades-old sources of pollution and bring together a broad spectrum of stakeholders who work in concert to make their communities better and more sustainable places to live, work and play,” he said.

Each town will receive a $300,000 “assessment grant” which all will use to prepare, update, and prioritize a brownfields inventory and conduct up to 21 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to produce up to 10 cleanup plans and conduct community outreach activities.

“These grants announced today are part of Puerto Rico’s road to recovery from the natural disasters, and of enabling the redevelopment of our industrial base,” said Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in Washington Jenniffer González-Colón.

“We must continue to allocate federal funds like these to improve the communities’ living standards and invest in the economic growth of the island,” she said.

In Barranquitas, the target area is the 17-mile corridor that lies northeast to southwest through the heart of Barranquitas and serves as a main commercial artery and primary link to San Juan, and the highly urbanized commercial and industrial district.

Priority sites include a former Job Corps School, a former sewage plant, the former Calle Barcelo textile manufacturing facility, the former Calle Milton Perelez intermediate urban school that adjoins the Barranquitas River, and a former hospital near the Barranquitas River.

The town of Guaynabo will use funds to address the Bay Area District, which stretches 1.7 miles northeast to southwest in the northern part of Guaynabo. Priority sites include a vacant lot, the former Calle E. Ramos Antonini Auto Parts store, a former rehabilitation center, an abandoned store, and a former auto repair facility.

In Vega Alta, the grant funding will toward work on a 3.4-mile toll road corridor and Vega Alta’s urban center. Priority sites are a former healthcare center, a former gymnasium, a former casino, a former masonic lodge, and the former El Morro Box Factory.

“These funds have a significant impact to our city that move us forward in our economy recovery and development, specifically in recovering structures that were destroyed by hurricanes Irma and María,” Vega Alta Mayor Maria Vega said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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