EDWARDSVILLE — U.S. Rep. John Shimkus of the 15th District was joined by Reps. Rodney Davis of the 13th District and Mike Bost of the 12th District to announce an Environmental Protection Agency grant has been awarded to Madison County.
“Today we’re announcing a $400,000 grant from the EPA,” Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan said. “This grant will be used to identify brownfield sites in Madison County. This is referring to sites that are outside of the traditional manufacturing corridor in the northern, eastern and southern portions of Madison County. The grant will be administered by Madison County Development. The first step will consist of identifying the brownfield sites in the condition to where they could be put into a productive use.”
In recent years, EPA brownfield assessment grants were awarded to the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority and America’s Central Port (formerly the Tri-City Regional Port District) to access more than 70 sites in the county’s western industrial corridor. A brownfield site is a property where expansion, redevelopment or reuse could be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
“This is a great opportunity to share in a bipartisan fashion with Chairman Dunstan and County Board member (Kelly) Tracy,” Davis said. “Today is a wonderful day to commend Madison County in the effort that has been put forth by the leadership of Frank Miles and his team from Madison Community Development. This is an example of what has to happen here in Madison County, here on the ground. We can’t do our job in Washington, D.C., without the people here on the ground helping assure us that the money we send back to our districts is being allocated properly.”
Frank Miles, administrator of Madison County Community Development, said the grant is only for the identification of brownfield sites in Madison County and does not include site cleanup.
“After the study is completed, Madison County Community Development will develop a plan for the identified brownfield that includes cleanup and removal of any contamination,” Miles said.
The EPA specifies that $200,000 of the $400,000, three-year grant be used to identify hazardous brownfield sites with heavy metals, creosote and other toxins in the soil. The remainder of the funds will be used to identify brownfield sites contaminated by petroleum products.
The grant will be used to prioritize and investigate the historic uses of the properties, determine the type, severity and extent of contaminants, and develop remedial alternatives that will allow for safe and viable reuse of the properties.
“Today there are laws in place to protect the ground and procedures to follow if a new gas station is built,” Bost said. “If that station goes by the wayside, there are conditions to be followed and things to be done for that property to be reused. Unfortunately, there are a lot of these properties that remain before those laws went into place that are simply not able to be productive as they are now. They’re not only potentially dangerous structurally, but they’re also taken off the tax rolls. They aren’t there for the opportunity to bring economic growth or bring in tax dollars to our county. Seeing this grant put together to be used wisely in our districts to get that property back in a productive manner, I’m glad to be here and be in support of this grant and this process.”
Shimkus stressed the redevelopment opportunities of brownfield sites.
“I am committed to working toward the transformation of our area’s abandoned and contaminated properties into environmentally safe areas for use by our citizens and for possible redevelopment,” the congressman said. “Many of the sites we believe will be classified as brownfields are strategically located and are excellent sites for redevelopment.”
To date 35 sites have been named brownfield sites within Madison County, including 24 in Granite City, seven in Alton and three in East Alton. Potential sites range from industrial sites as large as 80 acres to small former gas stations. Preliminary work on the project revealed that in a number of rural areas, businesses which at one time supported the industrial facilities in the eastern part of the county are abandoned and appear to suffer from contamination.
For information on brownfields, visit www.epa.gov and search “brownfield Madison County IL”.