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Ogdensburg receives two EPA cleanup grants

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OGDENSBURG — The city’s ongoing efforts to clean up contaminated property received another round of federal support Thursday.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded two Brownfields Assessment Grants totaling $320,000 to the city.

“This is a great investment for Ogdensburg,” she said in a Thursday news release. “This funding will allow the City to identify hazardous substances and petroleum products that put at risk the community’s environmental safety and prevent the use of valuable properties for economic development and increased recreational opportunities. These federal dollars will have an enormous impact on the development of the City’s waterfront sites that are critical to the future of the community.”

The grants will be used for a communitywide environmental site assessment of hazardous substances as part of the redevelopment of the city’s waterfront properties and other polluted sites. A $200,000 grant will look for hazardous substance contamination, including heavy metals, solvents and other industrial waste. A $120,000 grant is solely dedicated to the investigation of petroleum contamination.

“This is going to be utilized for the assessment phase of it, which is important as we get the testing done,” said Mayor William D. Nelson.“These are the first steps that need to be taken toward the eventual cleanup of these sites. As we know now in Ogdensburg, this is a long process, but this helps us move forward.”

Funds will be used to conduct up to 20 Phase I and six Phase II environmental site assessments focused on the city’s efforts to revitalize its local waterfront for new commercial use and tourism opportunities. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach and cleanup planning activities.

“The opportunity for us to remediate the city’s waterfront property is critical to our future,” Mr. Nelson said. “This funding is central to our brownfield redevelopment, housing and tourism strategies and I am greatly appreciative of Senator Gillibrand’s efforts on behalf of our proposal.”

The environmental site assessment will focus on identifying hazardous substances for the remediation of Ogdensburg’s waterfront Brownfields Opportunity Area, which includes polluted sites in the Marina District, the former Augsbury Tank Farm District, the Fort de la Presentation District and the Shade Roller/Diamond International District.

“Our waterfront is our future; we’ve put a lot of money and effort into planning for and revitalization of these sites,” Mr. Nelson said.“This money will go for assessment on sites like the Augsbury Tank Farm property, being able to find where the contamination is on that, and ultimately getting it cleaned.”

Earlier this month, the City Council learned that though a cleanup and demolition project at the former Standard Shade Roller site was complete, months of investigation and decontamination remained before the land was ready for development. Mr. Nelson said some of the funds would be spent investigating that site.

Sen. Gillibrand wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in November urging the approval of the city’s request for funds.

Ogdensburg was one of 245 grantees receiving money to assess and clean up brownfields Thursday. The EPA released a total of $69.3 million.

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