The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday is giving $1 million to a pair of Utah cities struggling to revive contaminated areas within their boundaries.

Such an infusion of money will help rid these areas of toxins that pose harm to public health and make them impossible for any new development.

“EPA’s Brownfields grants are supporting critical cleanup and redevelopment projects in Utah,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “Today’s funding will help community leaders in Murray and Spanish Fork address contamination in soil, water and outdoor spaces and create new businesses, housing and recreational opportunities.”

The money will be split evenly among Spanish Fork and Murray for evaluation.

How will Spanish Fork use the funds

Spanish Fork will use EPA Brownfields funding to assess environmental contamination at two priority sites within the city, the Express Way Landfill and the Foundry.

“This grant will also give the city the opportunity to plan for the redevelopment of areas that are underutilized and have been used industrially,” said Mayor Mike Mendenhall. “I thank the EPA for their grant funding and continued support as we work to make Spanish Fork a great place to live and work.”

The Express Way Landfill sits on a 40-acre lot consisting of 13 parcels that have been combined into one landfill site. Previous investigations of the site have identified elevated concentrations of metals such as lead, arsenic and chromium in soil and benzene and arsenic in groundwater, as well as landfill gases. EPA Brownfields grant funding will assist with further site investigation and cleanup planning to understand the environmental impacts preventing the property from being redeveloped.

EPA funding will also be used to assess the Foundry site, located in the Spanish Fork Industrial Park. Established in 1884, the Foundry manufactured iron and brass castings with the use of hazardous chemicals including volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and semi-volatile compounds. Assessment of the site is necessary to determine whether the site is safe for redevelopment.

Spanish Fork will use the money to investigate these centrally located Brownfields sites and create opportunities for development, including affordable housing and new commercial spaces. Revitalization of these spaces will increase local employment opportunities, generate tax revenue and provide services to the community.

The help for Murray

Murray will use the EPA Brownfields grant funding to assess two priority sites in the Murray Central Business District: the Creek Pocket Park and the Soccer Locker.

The Creek Pocket Park is a vacant residential parcel located near the historic Murray smelters and is a vital connection between the east and west sides of the city. EPA Brownfields funding will be used to assess contaminants of concern on the property, including lead, asbestos, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals.

After assessment and cleanup planning, the city plans to purchase and develop this property into a “pocket park” as part of the pedestrian-trail advancement along the creek. This will aid flood-plain mitigation plans and support the safe travel of residents through the central corridor.

EPA funding will also assess contaminants at the Soccer Locker, a 2.78-acre lot located along the Little Cottonwood Creek. Previous investigations of the property indicate high levels of arsenic and other metals, presumed to be slag and mine waste.

The city plans to develop the Soccer Locker into mixed-use affordable housing and commercial buildings to improve employment opportunities and resident quality of life. Assessment of this site will revitalize a blighted property into a space that will relieve housing burdens and food deserts in the area.

EPA, Utah and the cleanup of contamination

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Over the years, the federal agency has worked with Utah officials to remediate once-contaminated sites to give them a chance at viability and to boost the economy.

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In 2009, Ogden City garnered $400,000 for an area from Wall Avenue to I-15 and from 21st Street to 30th Street — brownfields, targeted for contamination assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Brownfields, by EPA’s definition, are real properties that are hindered by redevelopment or reuse because of the potential for possible contaminants — from arsenic-wrapped boilers in buildings to below-ground storage tanks potentially leaching gas, diesel fuel or heating oil.

EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.7 billion in Brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse.

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