Brownfield Newsletter


Focusing on Reuse and Redevelopment of Contaminated Properties


Vol. 06-2 ~ June 29, 2006 Welcome

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John B. Carnahan
Brownfield Coordinator

Sonja Benson
Brownfield Program Specialist

Contaminated Sites Program
Division of Spill Prevention and Response
610 University Avenue
Fairbanks, Alaska 99709
Phone: (907) 451-2166
Facsimile: (907) 451-2155

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DEC Brownfield Webpage
Contaminated Sites Webpage

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Previous Issues of DEC's Brownfield Bulletin

 

DEC values the reuse and redevelopment of contaminated properties, and has developed our Brownfield Program as a part of the Contaminated Sites Program's “Reuse and Redevelopment Initiative.” DEC would like to welcome you to our second newsletter discussing brownfield developments and opportunities in our great state.


In This Issue:

Community of Ekwok to Get Brownfields Assessment

Ekwok fuel barge

Fuel barge at the landing on the Nushagak River in Ekwok. Photo by Ralph Andrew, October 2004.

A middle-school survey of used oil drums and the driven efforts of one individual helped the rural Nushagak River community of Ekwok secure a brownfield assessment. It started with an email from Ekwok’s solid waste manager, Charlie Nelson, to DEC’s brownfield coordinator to get things rolling.

Ekwok is located 43 miles northeast of Dillingham, and their intent is to evaluate environmental threats hindering community development. DEC is pleased that rural areas of the state are sharing in the attention and money available nationally to address lingering contamination and put contaminated land back into productive use. Brownfield funding and assistance is not just for urban blight. The Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA) program is just one mechanism for communities across Alaska to obtain these free assessment services.

It all started when a friend of Charlie's from Port Heiden referred him to DEC to talk about his community concerns. Port Heiden has an EPA State and Tribal Response Program grant to help them identify and map brownfield sites. After discussing Ekwok’s situation with John Carnahan, who recommended requesting a TBA with DEC’s assistance, Charlie began to assemble Ekwok’s request. John thought that the best way to approach the project was to request an area-wide assessment and brownfield inventory to encompass all the potential environmental concerns. EPA agreed.

DEC’s brownfield program specialist, Sonja Benson, worked closely with Charlie to navigate the eligibility rules and other requirements for brownfield assistance. DEC helps applicants for all types of federal and state brownfields grants, and has other tools in addition to grants and technical assistance to promote redevelopment of contaminated properties. DEC also provides oversight to protect human health and the environment in the cleanup and management of brownfield sites.

Ekwok’s village-wide assessment and inventory of environmental conditions will focus on potential brownfields. Possibilities include the city’s old bulk-fuel storage tanks, contaminated gravel pads, and old residential dump sites. EPA’s contractors will benefit from a survey of used-oil drums done by local students and their teachers in December of last year, with the help of Elizabeth Dowdy, acting temporary principal at Ekwok’s school.

We would like to congratulate Charlie Nelson and the community of Ekwok on the award of this TBA. When a community has a strong advocate like Charlie gathering community support and taking the initiative, the doors are opened to technical assistance and funding opportunities.

If you would like more information on how to apply for a TBA, please contact us for more information, visit our website, or to see EPA's TBA fact sheet, click here.

Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov


The Request Period is Open for DEC Brownfield Assessments

We encourage all those who would like to apply for a DEC Brownfield Assessment (DBA) to be sure to submit requests by the July 31 deadline. We will begin to review and rank the requests on August 1.

These assessments are the first step toward understanding what environmental conditions may exist at a site or in your community. To date, DEC has conducted a dozen DBAs, ranging from Phase I environmental site assessments to a full-scale release investigation, and we anticipate that more communities will take advantage of this program this year. Past DBA projects include the following:

old machine shop

Old machine shop, Village of St. George Island, one of the sites receiving a DEC Brownfields Assessment this year. Photo courtesy Bob Pawlowski, St. George Chadux Corp. August 2004.

  • Site assessment at an abandoned and foreclosed gas station;
  • Multiple Phase I environmental site assessments for the Municipality of Anchorage;
  • Environmental assessment of a former recycling yard;
  • Assessment and sampling at a remote former gold mine operation;
  • Sampling at a historic seal harvesting facility;
  • Phase I assessment of former FAA property slated for major redevelopment in Kenai; and
  • Phase I/II assessment of a former construction storage yard.

All Phase I environmental site assessments are conducted in accordance with ASTM Standard E1527-05, which meets the "All Appropriate Inquiry" rule recently established by EPA. These assessments are a necessary component of due diligence before the transfer of a commercial property, and required when federal funding is used. Site-specific sampling is included if it meets the assessment objectives and funding permits; however, sampling costs can be significant, and our goal is to spread the funding to as many projects as possible.

Please visit our web page and review the DBA Fact Sheet, which describes the intent of the program. You can also download the simple DBA Request Form—and we are available to help you complete it. If you have any questions, please contact us at your convenience.

John Carnahan: John.Carnahan@alaska.gov

Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov


Fairbanks North Star Borough Plans to Revitalize Old City Dump Site

The Fairbanks North Star Borough received two competitive cleanup grants awarded to Alaska by EPA this year, with a third grant going to the village of Unalaska. The two Fairbanks grants, which total $400,000, are earmarked for cleanup activities at a former recycling center near the borough landfill, and for remediation and debris removal at a historic Fairbanks City dump site along the south bank of the Chena River just west of downtown Fairbanks. The old dump is the site of the new development project known as Chena Riverbend. The Chena Riverbend project will be able to move forward once the site is properly assessed and any necessary cleanup is completed.

The borough has been very successful in obtaining competitive brownfield funding. We believe their success in obtaining more than $150,000 in DEC Brownfield assistance, and $900,000 in federal assistance is rooted in their commitment to an understanding of the brownfield program, identification of good brownfield opportunities, coordination with the DEC on their goals and objectives, and just plain good grant writing. DEC’s brownfield staff appreciates the close working relationship that has developed with the various FNSB departments.

The conceptual plan to promote economic development within the borough seeks to redevelop 101 acres of borough-owned property into a community centerpiece highlighting the Chena River. The overall goals of the project are to enhance existing facilities, expand tourism opportunities and promote the local economy. The project currently includes a new State of Alaska sport fish hatchery, sports arena, convention center, park and ball fields, greenspace and a riverwalk, with the potential for a new hotel, shops and office space, apartments, senior residences, and jobs for tourism and the fishing industry.

The total of $600,000 awarded to Alaska was part of $70 million in grants awarded by EPA to communities in 44 states and two territories this year. For more information on the different funding opportunities provided by DEC and EPA, visit our website.

For more information on the Chena Riverbend project, contact FNSB: Tami Sheehan: tsheehan@co.fairbanks.ak.us or Bob Craig: bcraig@co.fairbanks.ak.us.

Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov


Worksession on Brownfields in the Yukon Watershed Brings Together Representatives From 20 Communities

YRITWC worksession

Sonja Benson, DEC brownfield program specialist, works on the brownfield survey exercise with Gabriel Tanak, Sr., of Shaktoolik, and Cynthia Paniyak of Chevak. Photo courtesy YRITWC.

Malinda Chase of YRITWC

Malinda Chase, YRITWC Brownfield Tribal Response Program manager, explains the brownfield survey form to worksession participants. Photo courtesy YRITWC.

In late May, the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) held a worksession in Anchorage to focus on potential brownfields in 20 communities within the Yukon River Watershed.

The YRITWC Brownfield Tribal Response Program hosted participants and presenters, including elder advisors, tribal council members, environmental program directors and coordinators, natural resources managers and technicians, IGAP staff, and volunteers. DEC brownfield staff also attended, along with the RuralCAP rural housing and planning director and a civil engineer from Ridolfi Inc., all of whom gave presentations on their programs, and offered specific examples of projects in rural communities.

The worksession included power-point and web-based presentations, as well as hands-on activities that were designed to orient participants in brownfields concepts, approaches for mapping contaminants, and conducting surveys and inventories of brownfields in rural communities. Some of the community-focused presentations were on Mountain Village's Old Village Store project, the ongoing monitoring efforts at the formerly used defense site at Cape Romanzof, and the Metlakatla and Makah Tribes' experiences with brownfield projects. Elder advisors Trimble Gilbert and Sarah James of Arctic Village offered opening prayers for each day's sessions, and insights on our relationship to the land and the importance of keeping the traditional ways while improving the environmental and social conditions of Native Alaskan communities.

John Carnahan at YRITWC worksession

John Carnahan, DEC brownfield coordinator, presents "Brownfields 101" at the YRITWC worksession in Anchorage. Photo courtesy YRITWC.

For more information on the YRITWC Brownfield Tribal Response Program or this worksession, contact Charlene Stern: cstern@yritwc.com or (907) 451-2558.

Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov


Western Brownfields Workshop Focuses on Brownfield Grant Recipients

The Western Brownfields Workshop was held June 5–7, in Tucson Arizona. Approximately 200 people from the western United States (as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands), generally comprising EPA Regions 8, 9, and 10, attended the workshop. Attendees included brownfield grant recipients and prospective applicants, EPA management and staff, state regulators, and consultants. The focus of this workshop was on administration and implementation of the different types of brownfields grants and awards, as well as response-program and internal capacity development. The sessions were tailored to the needs of grant recipients and their contractors. Attendees included recipients of all types of EPA brownfields grants, including State and Tribal Response Program (STRP) grants; competitive grants such as assessment, job-training, cleanup, and revolving loan fund (RLF); and Targeted Brownfield Assessments (TBAs). This annual workshop is a must for anyone new to the brownfield grant process.

The workshop was structured around multi-media and interactive presentations, which allowed time for questions during or after each presentation, and small breakout-group discussions. The group breakouts allowed for mixing among participants, and also catered to individual recipients’ backgrounds and needs. These breakouts were organized by EPA Region, type of grant, and size of community. Breakout session topics included grant best practices "nuts and bolts," grant implementation, financial tools and funding opportunities, and stakeholder involvement and community outreach best practices. Full session presentation topics included EPA's new All Appropriate Inquiry Rule (AAI), with a second session on AAI continuing obligations, project-specific discussions on barriers to sustainable redevelopment, tips for developing better requests for project proposals and working with contractors, and examples of leveraging additional funding, such as obtaining a cleanup grant by building on the completion of a successful brownfield assessment.

This workshop provided excellent informational, educational, and networking opportunities for brownfield grant recipients and those who support their work. Watch our website for information on the next western regional brownfields workshop, which will be announced early next spring.

The full workshop agenda can be seen here.

Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov


ASTM Training Coming to Alaska

With a November implementation date for the new federal "All Appropriate Inquiry Rule," there has been a lot of interest over changes to the ASTM Standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments. With increasing brownfield funding becoming available, proper site investigation of contaminated sites becomes even more critical to ensure compliance with federal funding requirements.

In response to the demand across the state for training specific to these topics, ASTM International has scheduled a Phase I & Phase II Environmental Site Assessment training class in Anchorage on November 7–9, 2006, at a reduced rate of $895 for three days of training; the usual cost for this training is $1,095.

Representatives from DEC will participate in these classes to discuss how Phase I and Phase II site assessments are used within DEC's Contaminated Sites Program and to discuss how the standards relate to regulatory requirements. It is important that, while following the ASTM Standard, consultants do not lose sight of Alaska regulatory requirements for site investigations. DEC staff will also provide information on our new requirements for developing conceptual site models, and will be available to answer any questions during the training.

This training will also provide the most up-to-date information on the EPA Final Rule for All Appropriate Inquiry under the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act.

See the brochure and registration form for these classes. For more information, please contact:

Scott Murphy, Director, Education Services
ASTM International
100 Barr Harbor Drive
West Conshohocken, PA 19428
Tel: 610-832-9685
e-mail: smurphy@astm.org


Update on Alaska's Revolving Loan Fund Grant Application

DEC regrets to report that the Alaska Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Coalition (ABRC) was not selected for an EPA RLF grant for brownfield cleanups. The ABRC was seeking a $3-million capitalization for an RLF that would provide grants and low-interest loans to eligible entities interested in cleaning up brownfield sites across Alaska. The ABRC will regroup and determine the best approach to applying again in December 2006.

Sonja Benson: Sonja.Benson@alaska.gov


 

This DEC Brownfield Bulletin is meant as a simple means for brownfield-related issues to be disseminated across the state to those interested in brownfield developments. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you believe would be interested. If you have issues or stories that you would like to submit, please send them to me and I will incorporate them on your behalf. If you would like to have your name removed from this distribution, simply email us and it will be done!