EPA Pitches in to Revitalize Contaminated Areas of Utah

May 31, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded local governments along the Wasatch Front more than a million dollars to help clean up and revitalize blighted property. Here's how Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and Ogden plan to use the EPA Brownfields grants given to 245 communities nationwide.

With major development underway along North Temple in Salt Lake City, including construction of the Airport TRAX line, Mayor Ralph Becker says this money is a huge leg up for the process.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure those sites are clear along this corridor, because this was mostly manufacturing and industrial corridor, there have been railroads through part of it. It’s had a lot of industrial uses, and we want to facilitate the redevelopment of this whole corridor.”

The $1.3 million grant will allow the city to do an assessment of North Temple and various other sites near abandoned industrial and commercial properties, including areas in the Granary District and West Millcreek in Salt Lake County. The grant will also be used for properties along the 24th Street Corridor, 24th Street Interchange, and the Wall Avenue Retail Corridor in Ogden.

Those areas may be contaminated with things like petroleum, arsenic, lead and asbestos.

Jim Martin, Regional Administrator for the EPA says with the help of this grant, five years from now these areas will be transformed.

“What we’ve seen across the country with Brownfields grants is they provide that one piece of help, that one step further to help them figure out what it is they want to do, what properties they might need to remediate, what the contaminates are and then help them actually clean those sites up, so that the private sector can come in and invest with some confidence.”

The cleanup is expected to generate jobs for the local community and also reduce pollution and threats to human health.

Amanda Smith, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality says this is a great example of what building the economy and protecting the environment looks like.

“Most importantly people live and work, and are in this area every day. So it’s critically important that we have the funding to come in and do an assessment of the area, find out what’s here, what contaminants remain and then bring them up to standard.”

The EPA estimates there are 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in the United States.