EPA Announces the Selection of Three Municipalities in Puerto Rico to Receive $900,000 for Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment

May 18, 2021
Press Release
The grant awards help underserved communities Build Back Better and address Environmental Justice concerns

NEW YORK (May 18, 2021) – Today, as part of a weeklong virtual conference on Brownfields issues in the Caribbean, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that three municipalities in Puerto Rico have been selected to receive a total of $900,000 to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program. Nationwide, 151 communities will receive 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in EPA Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.

This funding will support underserved and economically disadvantaged communities across the country in assessing and cleaning up contaminated and abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Approximately 50 percent of selected recipients will be receiving EPA Brownfields Grant funding for the first time and more than 85 percent are located in or serving small communities. “Cleaning up brownfields helps protect the environment and serves as a catalyst to jumpstart much needed economic growth in Puerto Rico communities, often in historically underserved areas,” said EPA acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “These grants address decades-old sources of pollution and bring together a broad spectrum of stakeholders who work in concert to make their communities better and more sustainable places to live, work and play.”

The three selectees and projects are:

• The Municipality of Barranquitas ($300,000 assessment grant): Community-wide grant funds will be used to prepare, update, and prioritize a brownfields inventory and conduct up to 21 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to produce up to 10 cleanup plans and conduct community outreach activities. The target areas are the 17-mile corridor that lies northeast to southwest through the heart of Barranquitas and serves as a main commercial artery and primary link to San Juan, and the highly urbanized commercial and industrial district. Priority sites include a former Job Corps School, a former sewage plant, the former Calle Barcelo textile manufacturing facility, the former Calle Milton Perelez intermediate urban school that adjoins the Barranquitas River, and a former hospital near the Barranquitas River.

• The Municipality of Guaynabo ($300,000 assessment grant): Community-wide grant funds will be used to prepare and update a brownfields inventory, prioritize sites, and conduct up to 21 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to prepare up to 10 cleanup plans and conduct community outreach activities. The target area is the Bay Area District, which stretches 1.7 miles northeast to southwest in the northern part of Guaynabo. Priority sites include a vacant lot, the former Calle E. Ramos Antonini Auto Parts store, a former rehabilitation center, an abandoned store, and a former auto repair facility.

• The Municipality of Vega Alta ($300,000 assessment grant): Community-wide grant funds will be used to prepare, update, and prioritize a brownfields inventory and conduct up to 21 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to produce up to 10 cleanup plans, and conduct community outreach activities. The target area is the 3.4-mile Toll Road Corridor and Vega Alta’s Urban Center. Priority sites are a former healthcare center, a former gymnasium, a former casino, a former masonic lodge, and the former El Morro Box Factory.

“These grants announced today are part of Puerto Rico’s road to recovery from the natural disasters, and of enabling the redevelopment of our industrial base. We must continue to allocate federal funds like these to improve the communities’ living standards and invest in the economic growth of the island. I want to thank EPA acting Regional Administrator for working towards our common goal and commit to continue supporting the municipalities,” stated Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon.

Vega Alta Mayor Maria Vega said: “These funds have a significant impact to our city that move us forward in our economy recovery and development, specifically in recovering structures that were destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria.”

Today’s grant announcement includes:

• $8.8 million for 11 Multipurpose Grants, which will provide funding to conduct a range of eligible assessment and cleanup activities at one or more brownfield sites in a target area.

• $42.2 million for 107 Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.

• $15.5 million for 36 Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient.

The list of the fiscal year 2021 applicants selected for funding is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2021-brownfields-multipurpose-assessmentand-cleanup-grants 

EPA anticipates that it will award the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied by the selected recipients. Since its inception in 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example,

• To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. This has led to over 175,500 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.

• Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.13 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.

• In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15.2% as a result of cleanup activities.

• Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.

For more on the Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-epa-brownfield-grantfunding For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields