CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it is providing $3.085 million to agencies in Wyoming to help assess and clean up polluted sites.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality will receive a $2 million Brownfields Program assessment grant that it will use for at least environmental site assessments, according to the EPA. The City of Cheyenne will receive a $500,000 Brownfield assessment grant and the Sheridan County Conservation District will receive a $585,000 Brownsfield cleanup grant.
“With this funding, Wyoming communities will advance the cleanup of polluted sites, prioritizing community involvement in decision-making,” said KC Becker, regional administrator with the EPA.
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The environmental assessments DEQ will conduct will involve sampling soil, water, air and building materials for potential contamination to help determine cleanup options at some priority sites. Those sites include abandoned manufacturing areas, former mine areas, two vacant hotels and some salvage yards and junkyards in the city of Laramie, in Sweetwater County and in Carbon County, according to the EPA. The grant money will also help DEQ develop 11 cleanup and reuse plans and will support community outreach efforts.
Cheyenne plans to use its $500,000 grant to conduct 23 environmental assessments at some priority sites, according to the EPA. Those sites include a livestock feed mill, some industrial storage facilities, a scrap metal recycling center, a lumber yard and an old machine shop. The grant money will also help the city develop five cleanup plans and will support community engagement activity.
“This grant will help educate property owners and the public of potential barriers to development and allow the City to utilize tools, such as the Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund and the newly created Urban Renewal Authority, to remove those barriers to create a vibrant and inclusive community. This is great news for Cheyenne, and we are excited to utilize this grant to further redevelopment opportunities in our community,” Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins said in the EPA press release.
The Sheridan County Conservation District will use its $585,000 to help clean up buildings at the former Acme Power Plant, 165 Acme Road, in Sheridan. The site housed a coal-fired power plant that was active from 1910 to 1976 and was later used for automobile salvage and crushing, battery recycling and storing transformers, according to the EPA. The site is abandoned and contaminated with metals and some other inorganic materials, the press release states.
“This grant, which will support asbestos abatement in the structures on this 5-acre site, will expand greenspace and recreational opportunities in the Tongue River Valley in Sheridan County,” said Carrie Rogaczewski, district manager for the Sheridan County Conservation District. “A coal-fired power plant constructed in 1910, Acme was an important component of the region’s cultural and industrial history; however, the current condition impacts water and land quality, recreational activities, and the health and safety of residents and tourists.”
“Consistent with community priorities, cleanup and reuse of the Acme site will increase the availability of outdoor spaces for youth programs and recreation opportunities, promote sustainable reuse of an historic building or building materials, and eliminate asbestos exposure risks. The cleanup grant will complement other activities at the site, including soil cleanup and debris removal, being funded through other sources.”