WHEELING — Leaders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent their day Wednesday in several areas of northern West Virginia, visiting sites that are being cleaned up or have now been revitalized, with help from funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe and Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz spent time in Wheeling, Paden City and Morgantown on Wednesday, touring sites and talking with community officials, residents and stakeholders. Their first stop was Bethany Creek, where McCabe and Ortiz spent the morning with biologists from the EPA’s Wheeling office.
There, biologists took water samples of the creek and reviewed progress of ongoing projects to improve the stream’s quality for recreational use.
Their next stop was Paden City and the old Corning Glass Works Property, where they met with City councilmembers, the Paden City Development Authority, and representatives from West Virginia University Brownfields Assistance Center and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. PCDA purchased the property in 1999 after the Corning Glass factory closed in 1991 and is currently undergoing cleanup funded by a $500,000 Brownfields Cleanup grant announced in May 2021.
In May 2022, the EPA also selected the PCDA for a $500,000 BIL-funded Brownfields Assessment Grant to conduct several environmental site assessments, develop one reuse plan, and conduct community involvement activities at the 8.6-acre Paden City Industrial Park. The loss of major local employers in the glass industry has significantly impacted Paden City, leading to a population decline of nearly 40% since 1991. Using those EPA grants, the PCDA’s goal is to revitalize abandoned properties and create jobs.
“President Biden has recognized the importance of EPA’s Brownfields program to help build back our country’s economy with major investments in Brownfields cleanup,” said McCabe. “The Administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal as well as historic $254.5M investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to revitalize communities across the country is having a direct impact on revitalizing communities like Paden City.”
Previous EPA Brownfields funding included a $65,000 Targeted Brownfields Assessment to assess and prepare the site for clean-up, and a $36,000 Technical Assistance grant in 2021 to prepare workforce skills and availability assessment intended to create jobs in uses such as light manufacturing, office or small business incubator space.
“EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, as well as non-profits and other stakeholders to work together in assessing, safely cleaning up, and sustainably redeveloping Brownfields sites into productive use,” said Ortiz. “All this work that we do together helps to transform these contaminated sites into community assets that will attract jobs and achieve broader economic development.”
EPA’s Brownfields program has invested $41 million in 43 communities throughout West Virginia since 1997, leveraging more than $1.6 billion from other sources toward economic recovery efforts and creating 5,400 jobs.
The last stop of the trip included a visit to the Monongalia County and Star City Wastewater Treatment Plant, where a $25.5 million EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan helped to fund a $101 million expansion and upgrade to the facility.