Vol. 13-3 ~ Fall 2013
John B. Carnahan
Melinda S. Brunner
Contaminated Sites Program
Division of Spill Prevention and Response
610 University Avenue
Fairbanks, Alaska 99709
Phone: (907) 451-2156
Facsimile: (907) 451-2155
Previous Issues of DEC's Brownfield Bulletin
Welcome to the FALL 2013 edition of the DEC Brownfield Bulletin!
Summer may be the best time to be in Alaska, but it is also the busiest. Much occurred over the past months since our last newsletter, and it is with a sad heart that we have said our goodbye to the warm weather and sunny skies of summer. Fall has brought with it a series of extreme weather patterns. Most recently, a bizarre weather front brought winds reaching 60 mph in the Fairbanks area, closed schools for several days, brought record high temperatures nearing 45º F to the region, and knocked out power to 13,000 homes. We also wish our rural communities well in their struggles to find normalcy with the significant flooding and aftermath they are contending with in Western Alaska, where even the basic necessities for maintaining a community are in very short supply. It is a good time to reflect and provide what support we can to those facing these difficulties during the coming holiday season.
While we finish up most of our DEC Brownfield Assessments & Cleanups (DBACs) for this year, it is important to note that our DBAC request period for next year’s services is now open. The DBAC Program is a service provided by our R&R Program that allows for free assessment and cleanup services at the request of applicants. This period will end December 18, 2013 and the requests received through this time will comprise the workload from which we will select projects for next summer. If you have a brownfield project that you believe would qualify and benefit from a DBAC, please see our website for more information and contact us with any questions you may have.
In this issue:
FREE DEC Brownfield Assessment and Cleanup Services - Now Available!
Is there a brownfield property in your community where the questions lingering about contamination are hindering redevelopment? Or is there a brownfield site that your city/tribe/organization would reuse if you could just get it cleaned up? DEC’s Brownfield Assessment and Cleanup (DBAC) Program is accepting applications for services until December 18, 2013 at 5:00pm (AST). These services are provided at no cost to the applicant. Examples of services the DBAC Program has provided to previous applicants include site assessments (both historical record reviews and soil/water sampling), contaminated soil removal, and creation of environmental management plans.
The application for services, as well as a factsheet about the DBAC program, are available online at www.dec.alaska.gov/spar/csp/brownfields.htm#assess. Please review the fact sheet and then contact us if you have questions about the program or eligibility. We’d love to discuss your candidate site with you!
Successful DEC Brownfield Assessment!
Old Moravian Church - Kwigillingok
The Native Village of Kwigillingok secured property assessment services from DEC’s Brownfield Assessment and Cleanup (DBAC) Program in 2013 for the Old Moravian Church in Kwigillingok. The Village sought assistance from the Reuse and Redevelopment (R&R) Program since the property was viewed by the community as a potential contaminated site which could pose a threat to human health and the environment – this effectively limited its continued use. They expressed a desire to reuse the building as a youth activity center. One of the main concerns of the Village was the potential presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and lead-based paint in the Church. Additionally, the Church had become a place where children played, and elders were concerned about their well-being due to physical hazards and possible contamination.
The request qualified as one of five projects that received R&R Program services in 2013. DEC’s contractors visited Kwigillingok to take samples from the building and talk to the community about the Church’s reuse plans. The investigation results verified that there were no environmental conditions that would preclude the beneficial reuse of the Church building or property. According to the hazardous building materials inspection report, although asbestos, lead paint, and mercury switches were present in the Church building, none of the issues precluded the safe use of the church building in its current state. The knowledge obtained through the investigation will help the community better evaluate how to approach safe renovation and reuse of the site, to the benefit of the community.
If the Old Church is to be demolished, the ACM would require special handling in order to protect workers and those in the
vicinity of the demolition work. Often, construction materials become more of a threat to human health when they are destroyed, cut, or burned. In this case, the activities associated with demolition could break up non-friable asbestos such that it could be inhaled. Understanding the materials that will be handled prior to making decisions about the demolition are important to ensure the safety and well-being of workers. Demolition of the building would require Alaska-certified asbestos workers to perform demolition activities, and the entire waste stream would require disposal as ACM.
The results of this environmental investigation will allow the community to safely move forward with their plans to remodel the Church, retaining the historical significance and value of the church. When this is accomplished, the community will again have a central meeting place for public and social events of all kinds, serving as another example of how a place once perceived as a contaminated site can become a new building, offering beneficial use to everyone!
Beyond Brownfields: Finding Answers to Questions about Eroding Sites
Communities from Kaktovik to Atka have concerns about potentially eroding dumps and contaminated sites as these sources can add solid waste and contaminants to the oceans and rivers. Released debris and contaminants can have a variety of impacts, such as creating navigational hazards or affecting fish and wildlife. DEC is in the midst of a four-year Waste Erosion Assessment and Review (WEAR) project to inventory and prioritize sites based on their risk to human health and the environment and their potential to erode. 129 communities along Alaska’s northern and western coasts, within the Aleutians, and along rivers up to 300 miles upriver from the coast are being evaluated. DEC will use the gathered information to develop a final report in 2015 that will include site-specific recommendations for resolving identified issues. For more information about the WEAR project, please visit www.dec.alaska.gov/eh/sw/wear.html.
Moving a Brownfield toward Reuse – Former Copper Valley School, Tazlina
Environmental cleanups can be complex, costly, and require long periods of time to complete. It can be exceedingly difficult to find the impetus to initiate action at a site, especially when it is difficult to ascertain where exactly to begin. More often than not, an external motivating factor is required to truly make things happen. This may involve a decision over health and safety, a changing financial situation, or simply a vision for an improved future use. All of these components are important in the world of brownfield revitalization, and all played a part in the recent cleanup that took place at the site of the former Copper Valley School in the Tazlina community.
The site was a former Catholic boarding school that operated in the area for 15 years. The school closed in 1971, was sold a couple years later to developers, and then burned to the ground shortly after the property transaction in 1975. Subsequently, the property ownership returned to the Archdiocese of Anchorage who originally owned and developed the site. The site sat abandoned since the fire. It was a tragic ending to what was considered a marvel, providing valuable educational opportunities and important life-lessons to many Alaskans from across the state.
The school was constructed over time, primarily on monetary and materials donations as they became available. The school grew to more than 10,000 square feet, built of wood, steel, and some of what are now viewed as less than environmentally safe construction materials normal during that era - leaded paints and asbestos. These substances became even more hazardous when the devastating fire released them to the environment, becoming an uncontrolled risk to unsuspecting visitors and trespassers alike.
Throughout the decades, there was a desire to restore this property. In 2008 there was renewed environmental interest in the site by the Native Village of Tazlina (NVT). NVT’s interest led to a developing partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservations (DEC) Reuse & Redevelopment (R&R) Program. In coordination with the Archdiocese of Anchorage, DEC’s R&R Program completed a limited environmental evaluation of the site through its DEC Brownfield Assessment and Cleanup (DBAC) program, which helps communities address brownfield blight and environmental concerns. The assessment, known as a Property Assessment and Cleanup Plan (PACP) identified several potential environmental concerns, and established a baseline analysis with which to move forward.
The Native Village of Tazlina continued to pursue all avenues of assistance and reached out to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), and the Copper River Native Association, both of which were developing brownfield tribal response programs. ANTHC helped secure a Vision-to-Action service from EPA for NVT that identified, and gave a face to, the community’s desire to re-establish the site as a Native educational center.
In 2011, the Copper Valley Education and Cultural Center (CVECC), the group charged by the Church with managing the property, in cooperation with NVT, sought a Targeted Brownfield Assessment from the EPA. The field activities and scope of services were predicated on the previous information provided by the DEC’s PACP report, which targeted several areas of concern that required further evaluation. The TBA field work was completed in 2012 and determined that, although there were numerous physical hazards associated with the burned debris, the most immediate threat at the site was uncontrolled asbestos that required abatement in a timely manner.
Due to the nature of the release, the EPA engaged its Emergency Response Program, who in turn coordinated with the Archdiocese of Anchorage to ensure that action was taken sooner rather than later. The Archdiocese retained a consultant and contracting support to not only address specific requirements identified by EPA, but continued to complete property-wide demolition, cleanup and debris removal to the point where nothing indicated that a fire blighted property ever existed. The actions by the Church exceeded EPA requirements, and readied the site for reuse and redevelopment – the ultimate goal of any brownfield project.
At this time, the NVT, ANTHC, and CVECC are coordinating with the Church to identify any and all funding options that might help them move forward with their dream of a new Native Educational Center at the site of this once beloved institution. Although the major revitalization obstacle caused by environmental concerns has been eliminated, the real work for the community may just be beginning.
The DEC R&R Program would like to thank the Native Village of Tazlina, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Copper River Native Association, Copper Valley Education and Cultural Center, and especially the Archdiocese of Anchorage, for their cooperative efforts over several years that led to this successful result.
EPA Targeted Brownfield Assessments
ASTM Phase I and II Environmental Training
When: December 10 - 12, 2013
Due to popular demand, the DEC R&R Program is hosting a Phase I/II training specifically for Tribal Response Program staff in December 2013. This training is not currently open to the public. Please contact John Carnahan at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
DEC’s Brownfield Assessment & Cleanup (DBAC) Program
When: Application deadline is December 18, 2013
The DBAC Program could help your organization or community with assessing or cleaning up a brownfield. Please call Melinda Brunner at (907) 451-5174 or email email@example.com with questions.
EPA Brownfield ARC Grant Guildlines Released
When: Proposals are due January 22, 2014
The ‘ARC’ Guidelines (Request for Proposals) will also soon be posted at the EPA Brownfields Funding webpage. The Brownfields funding webpage provides other tools and resources to assist prospective grant applicants including: an Assessment Checklist, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and the Getting Started Preparing Your ARC Proposal Early guide. EPA's Brownfields Program provides funds to empower states, communities, tribes, and nonprofits to prevent, inventory, assess, clean up, and reuse brownfield sites. Under the ARC Request for Proposals, EPA provides funding for three types of competitive grants: Brownfields Assessment Grants, Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grants, and Brownfields Cleanup Grants. EPA strongly encourages applicants to read the full Guidelines carefully and to contact the EPA Region 10 Brownfields Team regarding grant eligibility before applying. If you are planning to submit a proposal this year, please contact EPA as soon as possible so that they may discuss the eligibility of your organization and your project and help answer any questions you may have.
Alaska Forum on the Environment
When: February 3 - 7, 2014
Save the date! It is never too early to start planning your training and conferences. This is the largest and most comprehensive event in the Alaska that focuses on climate change, emergency response, environmental regulations, fish and wildlife populations, rural issues, energy, military issues, business issues, solid waste, contaminants, contaminated site cleanup, mining and other topics pertaining to the environment. For more information, and to register, visit http://akforum.com/.
New Partners for Smarth Growth Conference
When: February 13 - 15, 2014
According to the conference website, “Smart growth approaches to development create healthy, vibrant places that give people more economic opportunities and choices. Learn how smart growth supports equitable development, environmental justice and economic vitality and empowers communities of color, tribes and disadvantaged groups. The 2014 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference includes a dynamic, interactive workshop and several sessions that will explore these critical issues and showcase strategies for greater collaboration among equitable development, smart growth and environmental justice advocates.” The agenda includes many topics that could be relevant to brownfields, including sessions on reusing shuttered schools and creating community gardens. Visit www.newpartners.org for more information.
Alaska STRP Annual Workshop
When: March 18 - 19, 2014
This annual workshop for Tribal Response Programs will be held in Fairbanks once again, but this year it will coincide with the World Ice Art Championships. As always, we are seeking input from all the Tribal Response Programs as to relevant agenda topics to serve in the best interest of all parties. Presenters are always appreciated and all TRPs are encouraged to provide an update on their program or lead a specific discussion topic. Please contact Melinda Brunner at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping at the next annual workshop.
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This DEC R&R Brownfield Bulletin is meant as a simple means to disseminate news across the state to those interested in brownfield developments. Please forward this to anyone you believe would be interested. If you have information or stories that you would like to submit, please send them to us and we 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!