The Turtle Creek, Steel Valley, and Twin River Councils of Governments (COG) in southeastern Allegheny County have been awarded a $600,000 federal grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to assess brownfields and their potential for other uses.
Brownfields are former industrial sites potentially harboring contaminants like petroleum or hazardous waste. Shawn Garvin, EPA Regional Administrator, said the Brownfields Coalition Assessment Grant will fund the assessment of about 25 brownfields within the 41 municipalities in those three councils of government.
"They can use the information they gain from [the assessment] to work with people who are interested in doing some type of redevelopment project," Garvin said.
Garvin said one lingering problem is developers don't want to use brownfield sites out of fear for liability if anything happened on the property.
"The success of the brownfields program has been to encourage people to go back to areas that have already been used before, that have the infrastructure already in place and reuse those sites so that we can continue to maintain our green areas in our communities," Garvin said.
According to Garvin, the EPA's brownfields project has spent about $18 billion since its inception in 1998 and helped create 75,000 jobs throughout the country.
Garvin said through the project more than 700 properties have been remediated so far, providing communities with economic development opportunities, a better quality of life and improvement of community aesthetics.