EPA awards city $300,000 in grants to assess, clean up sites

Published 9:12 pm Friday, June 16, 2017

The city of Selma recently received two grants from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test sites around Selma for potential economic development.

“This is a tremendous benefit for our city in allowing us to move forward with economic development projects and recruiting industry to Selma,” said Mayor Darrio Melton.“Having an environment that is very conducive for economic development goes a long way for us I believe as a city. We’ll be able to attract more development into areas or have more incentives for people to come in.”

The grants — worth $300,000 combined — are through the EPA’s Brownfields Program, which works to assess, clean up and reuse brownfields.

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According to the EPA, “a brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous waste substance, pollutant or contaminant.”

The EPA estimates there being around 450,000 brownfields across the United States.

The assessment grants Selma received will allow testing to be done in a number of locations throughout the city. Some of the sites listed in the grant application are Good Samaritan Hospital, the riverfront, property at the intersection of First Avenue and Marie Foster Street and the East Selma neighborhood.

Melton said more locations will be considered as well. He is also in the process of putting a committee together that will decide on the locations.

“I’m actually putting a committee together that will choose the sites we want to be tested. A couple of the sites have already been listed in the grant application, but we’ll choose sites that will be good for possible development to have it tested,” he said.

Melton said the assessments will save potential businesses from having to do the testing themselves.

It will also allow the city to market those sites. There is also no required matching funding from the city.

“This takes out a major, preliminary step for developing our city,” Melton said. “By using these federal funds to lay the foundation for businesses to invest in Selma, we’re making the city more business friendly at no cost to our city budget.”

If the sites test positive for contaminants, Melton said the city can apply for more funding to clean up the contamination.