Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman and Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, announced that EPA will provide $4 million in financial assistance to states to clean up contamination from leaking underground storage tanks around the nation.
EPA expects to select up to 40 pilot projects to help states and cities clean up these properties and foster redevelopment by returning them to productive economic and public use.
In New England to date approximately 70,000 substandard or abandoned leaking underground storage tanks have been removed from the ground.
"These sites have caused problems that, in many cases, have very costly solutions. With this pilot money, recipients will be able to accelerate cleanup and return properties to viable use," said Whitman."Fostering clean up at these sites not only restores the land but helps protect our water resources from petroleum contamination. The new pilot program is similar to our Brownfields initiatives in that it can help revitalize industrial areas and communities."
While Brownfields has been extremely successful, it has been unable to address abandoned petroleum tanks. These new pilots are building on the successful Brownfields program by bridging that gap.
The pilot project, called USTfields, involves abandoned or under-used industrial and commercial properties with perceived or actual contamination from petroleum that has leaked from underground storage tanks, or USTs.
"On their own, the New England states have already done significant work in removing old underground storage tanks and cleaning up properties contaminated by them," Varney said. "This initiative will strengthen the partnership between EPA and the states for the very important goal of pollution prevention. In particular, this project is a tool for states to remove long-abandoned or orphaned underground storage tanks where no responsible party can be found. This will ultimately allow restored properties to be returned to the community."
EPA is inviting states, territories and federally recognized Indian tribes as well as eligible intertribal consortia to compete for these pilots. Each selected pilot will receive up to $100,000 in Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund monies.
The deadline for submitting proposals for the USTfields Pilots is October 22. The announcement of the selected pilots will take place by the end of the year.