DEQ’s grant will be used to conduct statewide environmental assessments and redevelopment planning activities, mainly focusing on underserved communities in Appalachia, Blackstone, Emporia and Newport News. In these areas, manufacturing reductions, mine closures, demolished mills and manufacturing plants, idle fields and vacant warehouses have resulted in numerous brownfield sites.
Working with the Virginia Department of Energy and community stakeholders, sites were prioritized based on redevelopment potential and beneficial impact on surrounding properties. DEQ will focus on these initial regions to identify, assess, plan and facilitate the transformation and revitalization of brownfield sites. Using funding from the grant, plans for each of the sites will be developed based on the findings of environmental assessments, community input and data gathered through reuse planning efforts.
“We could not be happier to be recipients of this unprecedented $2 million EPA grant,” said DEQ Director Mike Rolband. “Using innovative approaches, DEQ works with property owners to safely and methodically clean up, transform and turn properties back to productive use. The funds will allow us to resolve legacy environmental issues and will lead to improved employment opportunities as well as increased social and economic benefits to these localities and surrounding neighborhoods.”
In addition, EPA awarded $3.5 million in grants to the Central Virginia Planning District Commission, City of Danville, Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, Lynchburg Economic Development Authority, City of Martinsville, Mount Rogers Planning District Commission and Shenandoah County. DEQ provided support to these localities, facilitating the application process and helping to secure a total of $5.5 million in federal brownfields funding for the Commonwealth.
This is the third year that DEQ has been awarded an EPA grant, having previously received $300,000 in both 2021 and 2018. Last year, DEQ used the grant funds to promote renewable energy projects on brownfields in historically economically disadvantaged communities in the Southside Regional Planning District Commission, which consists of Brunswick, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties. In 2018, DEQ used the funds to identify sites within the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission for brownfields assessments and planning.
About DEQ’s brownfields program
Brownfields are idled, underutilized, or abandoned industrial or commercial properties, where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Examples include factories, railyards, landfills and dry cleaners. DEQ actively assists communities and businesses in worthwhile and beneficial ventures through financial and technical assistance, liability protection, reasonable cleanup objectives and tailored programming.
For information on DEQ’s Brownfields Program, visit www.deq.virginia.gov/land-waste/land-remediation/brownfields.