At a press conference at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site, Environmental Protection Agency officials announced that the federal agency has awarded Chattanooga $4.9 million in funding to tackle brownfields in the city, "helping turn contaminated sites into productive economic opportunities."
The funds consist of two $500,000 grants - one for analysis, one for cleanup - and $3.9 million for Chattanooga’s Revolving Loan Fund, which offers low interest loans for cleanup of brownfield sites.
Officials said, "The funding will help revitalize polluted properties throughout the city, many of which were once industrial sites that contributed to Chattanooga’s 1960s-era reputation as the 'Dirtiest City in America,' and return them to productive use to create homes and jobs."
Mayor Tim Kelly said, “It’s expensive and time-consuming to correct the mistakes of the past that led to parts of our city becoming virtually unusable, but thanks to the tremendous support from the EPA, I’m confident that we’ll be able to work toward turning more of these eyesores into healthy properties that generate economic growth for our community.”
The $500,000 assessment grant will be used to develop an inventory of brownfield sites and conduct environmental assessments, which help determine remediation needs based on planned redevelopment.
Priority sites for the funding include the R.L. Stowe Mercerizing Mill, the U.S. Pipe and Wheland Foundry site, and a former 9.7-acre quarry.
The $500,000 cleanup grant will be used to clean up the abandoned rail corridor - the site of a future greenway - at 3225 Broad St., across from WDEF-TV and to support community engagement activities, such as community meetings, to get input on cleanup work plans, officials said.
The $4.9 million is supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion "to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties."