LEWISBURG (WVDN) – A presentation on the Region 4 Project of Brownfields Assessment and Remediation was given to the Greenbrier County Commission at their Aug. 9 meeting.
Region 4 Project manager Betsy Morris explained some of the details of this program and what is expected to happen this year.
She said, “We are doing the education and inventory phase right now, and we need to document and show the EPA that we are being diligent and the need is great in our area.”
Submissions of applications need to be done by the second week of September.
This particular grant will cover the identification and listing of properties as well as assessment of each by engineers from Potesta to determine if they are contaminated or polluted.
“The remediation phase will be much more expensive and will require seeking additional funding,” said Morris.
Properties do not have to be in the flood plain, and clusters of multiple properties that are adjacent to each other will make a big impact on the community if addressed by this program, she said. Nomination of properties can be done online by community members or local government who often owns the abandoned properties.
Of course, asbestos is an important pollutant to be identified, she said, and also abandoned fuel tanks like heating oil, drums, tanks and transformers on properties that are not occupied is an important issue.
“A good example of a potential Brownfields site is the Pocahontas Tannery,” Morris said of the Marlinton property.
“Three, four or five years down the road we expect to be able to show great progress,” said Morris.
She also said, “Twenty-five sites are already in the system, but we would like to double that number.”
The Biden administration’s commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America spurred this program through the EPA forward, and in 2021 there were three Greenbrier County properties that were granted $300,000: Black Diamond Mining coal landing in Sam Black Church, the Drennen/Grant retail properties in former East Rainelle, and Mulligan Lumber sawmill in Ronceverte.
A concerted effort to identify properties is needed before additional funds from the EPA can be obtained.
“Remediation will not be covered by this grant,” said Morris. “This grant is for identification and inspection to locate contaminants.”
The online questionnaire is easy to complete with drop-down boxes to check off property qualifiers. A GIS map will be created from these applications to geographically identify each site, the owners, the former owners and former uses of the property. This is the Phase One called Survey 123 and can be accessed by https://arcg.is/1m8GuT0.
In Phase Two the inspection of each property will be done by engineers of Potesta in Charleston and they will complete the title search and site assessment to either identify contaminants or identify the property as free of contaminants.
Public meetings are going to be scheduled to offer encouragement to area residents to help finding these properties. A full presentation like the one given at the county commission meeting that can be requested to be shown to groups and clubs.
The 2022 West Virginia Brownfields Conference will be held at Marshall University in Huntington on Sept. 13-15. Online registration will provide a link to attend virtually as well as in person at www.wvbrownfields.org.
Region 4 Planning and Development Council is the organization responsible for administration of this EPA funding, and their website is https://reg4wv.org.