Union County will use two “brownfields assessment grants” totaling $400,000 to determine which sites in the county are contaminated with hazardous materials and/or petroleum waste and plan for their clean-up.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said Tuesday that the county had received a letter from David R. Lloyd, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Brownfields and Revitalization, stating that Union County has been selected as “one of the entities EPA will begin negotiations with to award cooperative agreements for two assessment grants. Union County, South Carolina, submitted an outstanding grant proposal, and we deeply appreciate the tremendous commitment of time and energy that went into its preparation. … Phil Vorsatz, your Regional Brownfields Coordinator will work closely with Union County, South Carolina to negotiate the cooperative agreements prior to the grant awards.
A Brownfields 2012 Assessment Grant Fact Sheet provided by the EPA states that the agency has selected Union County for two brownfields assessment grants,” including one for hazardous substances ($200,000) and one for petroleum ($200,000). The fact sheet states that the “community wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to prioritize sites and conduct at least seven Phase I and three Phase II environmental assessments. Petroleum grant funds will be used to perform the same tasks at sites with potential petroleum contamination. Grant funds will also be used for cleanup planning and community involvement activities.”
The fact sheet describes a brownfield site as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” Under the 2002 Small Business Liability and Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act the EPA provides states and communities funds for the cleanup and revitalization of brownfields. This assistance comes in the form of assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants, and job training grants.
Sinclair said that the county hopes to use the grants to assess a number of sites around the county beginning with former mill sites that have not been through the process before. The sites to be assessed would be determined during the course of the negotiations with the EPA. While the grant funds allocated to the county are divided equally between hazardous substances and petroleum, Sinclair said the county hopes to change this through negotiations. He said the county would like to see more of the funds shifted toward assessments of hazardous substances.
Union County is one of three counties in South Carolina to be selected by the EPA for grants under the Brownfields Assessment Program. The others are Allendale County which has been selected to receive a $400,000 community wide assessment grant and Greenwood County which has also been selected to receive a $300,000 community wide assessment grant. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has been selected to receive $300,000 from the Revolving Loan Fund Supplemental Fund.