Antioch receives EPA grant to assess brownfields including in industrial park

An old industrial park and other properties on Depot Street in Antioch will likely be the beneficiaries of a $200,000 federal brownfields assessment grant the village received at the end of May, officials said.

Antioch was one of five communities in Illinois to be awarded an Environmental Protection Agency grant. The village had applied in 2010 without success and reapplied in 2011.

A brownfield site is defined by the EPA as a real property that has been hindered by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.

“This is a steppingstone. (The purpose of) the whole thing is to be able to redevelop old areas that have some blight to them, and it’s always good to do that because we can’t sit still,” Mayor Lawrence Hanson said. “We’ve got to move forward.”

The first step will be to develop a cooperative agreement with the EPA, which will include a work plan with specific locations and a timeline. Dustin Nilsen, the village’s community development director, said the focus will be the industrial park and areas along Orchard and Depot streets.

Nilsen said he expects the plan to be completed by July, although the entire project will take about two years. The grant expires in three years.

“This is really the largest scale brownfield effort (in Antioch) for sites that aren’t necessarily active in cleanups and development activity,” Nilsen said. “To this point, there’s just been work on a site-by-site basis.”

Deborah Orr, brownfields coordinator for EPA region 5, said the goal is to systematically examine a set of locations for contaminants and determine whether action is necessary for reuse of the land. Orr added that these locations are not currently federal safety concerns in terms of contamination.

Once the agreement is finalized, the village will look for a consultant to conduct assessments. The grant allows for 15 Phase I and five Phase II assessments.

“The first phase is actually just a paper chase to look at who owned the site and whether or not the owners could be handling hazardous substances,” Orr said.

Phase I also involves other preliminary checkups as required by the American Society for Testing and Materials site assessment standard. Phase II is the physical portion of the assessment during which officials will determine the level of clean up based on the planned reuse of the area. Depending on the site, this includes tests such as groundwater and soil examinations.

Orr said funds will become available in September. While much of it will be used for the site assessments, grant money will also be used for educational outreach programs targeted at local businesses to encourage redevelopment, Nilsen said.

“This work and this grant is not only aimed at reactivating these properties and redeveloping, it will generate jobs in this area and hopefully make these areas more viable for reinvestment,” he said. “This is certainly a twofold opportunity for the village.”

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