Southwest Montana — including Butte, Dillon and Anaconda — has received a $600,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant to clean up contaminated sites that do not fall under Superfund.
The $600,000 brownfields grant will enable private property owners to get a site investigated and, if it needs it, cleaned up. The money will support sites that have old petroleum tanks, asbestos and lead paint on their site.
The one hitch is that there has to be some interest in developing or selling the site, said interim director of Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Joe Willauer. Public property is also potentially available for the grant money, said Jim Davison, Anaconda Local Development Corporation.
The grant will help revitalize properties in Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Beaverhead, Granite, Jefferson, Madison, Powell, and Butte-Silver Bow counties.
Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development was one of 144 grant recipients across the nation receiving EPA brownfields environmental assessment, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants. The 221 grants totaling $54.3 million will provide communities with funding to assess, clean up and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment, according to an EPA news release.
Potential sites include properties anywhere in the seven-county region that could be former gas stations and automotive sites, dry cleaners, vacant historic structures and junkyards.
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“EPA’s Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt through the release. "These grants leverage other public and private investments, and improve local economies through property cleanup and redevelopment.”
“These brownfields grants will help communities like Butte, Anaconda and Dillon revitalize blighted sites and create new economic assets,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento through the release. “EPA will continue to support our state and local partners in Montana as they address environmental concerns and bring abandoned properties back into productive reuse.”
Both Willauer and Davison said the news was a bit bittersweet. Barbie Durham, the former director of Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development, passed away last week at age 57. Willauer said getting a brownfields grant for southwest Montana “was her baby,” and called the grant Durham’s legacy.
Davison said there are a couple of old gas-station spots on the east end of town and on Park Street that have already been targeted as potential sites for this grant.
Willauer said there will be a brownfields grant training session on the morning of June 28 at the Thornton Building, 65 E. Broadway St.