$390k available for ‘brownfield’ assessments

The New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) has received funding to help identify possible environmental trouble spots in New Castle.

The EDC has $390,000 set aside to help New Castle property owners assess their commercial properties and help create cleanup plans, if needed. Because of the federal grant funding, the assessments are at no charge to the property owners.

Commercial property owners are invited to a community meeting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 at the EDC conference room, 100 S. Main St., New Castle to learn if they are eligible.

Eligible sites include abandoned/underutilized industrial factories, junk/salvage yards, schools, gas stations, bulk terminals, railroad tracks/operations, commercial structures, antique landfills and dry cleaners.

These are also known as “brownfields.”

The Indiana Brownfields Program describes a brownfield as “an underutilized property where redevelopment or reuse is complicated due to actual or potential environmental contamination.”

In 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a five year, $2 million Community-Wide State Assessment Grant to the Indiana Finance Authority, through the Indiana Brownfields Program.

The City of New Castle was selected – along with Evansville, Frankfort, Gary and Lafayette – to receive a portion of these funds to assess brownfield sites.

The Community-Wide State Assessment Grant (CWAG) can help New Castle identify and investigate brownfield sites contaminated with petroleum products or hazardous substances.

The CWAG funds can be used for community outreach meetings, identifying brownfield sites, Phase I and II environmental site assessments (ESAs), and cleanup planning.

Phase II ESAs include asbestos and lead surveys; soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment and vapor sampling; and ground penetrating radar surveys, chemical inventory, drum removal and assessment/removal of underground storage tanks.

Cleanup planning can include Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) and Remedial Work Plans (RWP); Soil Management Plans; and Comfort/Site Status Letter Requests.

Penny York, the EDC’s director of special projects, said these assessments are helpful if someone owns a property that they cannot get any use out of, such as a closed factory or former gas station.

This is the third round of brownfield funding the EDC has received since 2018. York believes New Castle was picked for this newest funding because the community has been such good stewards of the EPA money in the past.

“This is a real benefit to us,” she said. “This has really brought a lot to our community.”

York said the EDC has been a part of building sales specifically because of this grant funding.

“Getting them into reuse is huge,” she said.

One of the benefits of a Phase I assessment is the protection it gives the buyer, York said. Each report is signed by an environmental scientist who determines if the property is contaminated or if it is environmentally clean.

York’s advice: If you suspect your property might be contaminated, get a brownfield assessment.

You might be surprised and find the property has no issues.

“When you have contamination, at times, there are things you need to get done to it,” she said.

At least with the Phase I and II assessments in hand, you know.

For more information about the local New Castle brownfields program, contact Penny York at the EDC office, 765-521-7402.

– Story by Travis Weik (Editor@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at TheCourierTimes.com.