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Maine Groups Get $600,000 in EPA Brownfields Cleanup Funds

A former woolen mill in Berwick is now providing much-needed senior housing, through an EPA brownfields cleanup loan. (EPA)
A former woolen mill in Berwick is now providing much-needed senior housing, through an EPA brownfields cleanup loan. (EPA)
July 15, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just handed out $10 million in funds to help communities clean up sites that may have been polluted or contain hazardous waste. Urban planners call these sites brownfields.

Frank Gardner, brownfields coordinator for EPA Region 1, said Maine and New England garnered a healthy portion of the available grant dollars.

"$2.6 million of that is coming into New England and, of that, $600,000 is going into Maine," said Gardner. "That just shows that the organizations in Maine that do this work are very competitive nationally, and this is a good day for them."

Some $300,000 in revolving loan funding was awarded to the Greater Portland Council of Governments; another $300,000 was awarded to the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council.

Gardner said in Maine, these funds have been used to clean up everything from closed-down paper mills and tanneries to abandoned gas stations. He noted the cleanup program sends an important message.

"Environmental protection and economic development can go hand in hand," he said. "These loans go to redevelopment projects that bring economic vitality back into these areas that have been adversely affected in the past by the brownfields."

Gardner cited a former woolen mill that sat vacant for years in Berwick, Maine, as a good example of a successful cleanup. The site now provides much-needed senior housing.

Brownfields cleanup funding for that project was made available by the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission, which received one of the revolving loan fund grants from EPA back in May.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME