CARIBOU, Maine — An Aroostook County organization that works to promote and foster economic development in the region will benefit from a $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The money, which was granted to the Caribou-based Northern Maine Development Commission, will help revitalize former industrial and commercial sites that have been contaminated by petroleum.
Maine received $1.8 million from the federal Recovery Act and $4.35 million from the EPA brownfields general program funding.
Nationwide, the EPA made $111.9 million in grants available. That EPA award was bolstered by funds from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009.
The grants will help to assess, clean up and redevelop abandoned, contaminated properties known as brownfields.
Robert Clark, the executive director of NMDC, said Tuesday that the $1 million communitywide revolving loan fund grant will help NMDC make loans to owners of sites that have been contaminated by petroleum.
“Our major goal is to get these sites cleaned up so that they can then be redeveloped,” Clark said. “This grant will allow us to make loans to help clean up these properties. The money goes to the owner of the site.”
Clark said that a number of sites around The County — such as former filling stations — have been contaminated by petroleum.
But those sites can be cleaned up, he stressed Tuesday, and changed into sites that can support businesses and other successful ventures.
“The best thing about this is that we have many sites out there that can be redeveloped,” said Clark. “They can support businesses and bring more jobs into the area. Our goal is to do that.”
Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, said that “cleaning and reusing contaminated properties provides the catalyst to improving the lives of residents living in or near brownfields communities.”
“A revitalized brownfields site reduces threats to human health and the environment, creates green jobs, promotes community involvement, and attracts investment in local neighborhoods,” she said.