Money is available to fund environmental assessments of brownfields sites across South Carolina, enabling for the possible redevelopment of properties that might have contaminants such as asbestos, lead-based paint, oil or other chemicals.
The Catawba Regional Council of Governments (CRCOG) has received a $1 million sub grant from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for the implementation of the S.C. Brownfields Environmental Site Testing (BEST) Program.
CRCOG has allocated funding to the 10 Councils of Government regions in the state, with the Upper Savannah Region of Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick and Saluda counties receiving a total of $73,446 to use for projects over a two-year period ending September 2024.
A brownfields site is a former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination.
“The goal of the grant program is we are going to do assessment work on these brownfields properties that are hindered by asbestos, lead-based paint or anything that has some kind of contaminating presence that is hindering the redevelopment and reuse of those properties,” Tyler Lewis of Catawba COG told a group of administrators who attended a lunch meeting at Upper Savannah COG on Feb. 23.
The site of environmental testing must be owned by a city, town or county, or be supported by a municipality for possible redevelopment. A private entity may apply for funding if supported by their municipality or county.
“We will require a letter of support from the administrator or council chair to say, ‘we are on board with this project. We believe it will better our community.’ We don’t want to fund anything that you guys (administrators) may not want to happen,” Lewis said.
Examples of sites that might be redeveloped after environmental testing for contaminants include old gas stations, automobile repair shops, car dealerships, textile mills, etc.
The BEST Program includes Phase I environmental site assessment (average $3,000 – $3,600), phase II environmental site assessment (average $18,000 – $36,000) and analysis of brownfields cleanup alternatives (average $5,500 – $7,500).
Each COG shall determine which projects receive funding in their respective regions based on the following criteria; 1, potential economic redevelopment opportunities (tax revenues/job creation/capital investment potential after cleanup); 2, potential to identify and eliminate environmental hazards (reduction of potential imminent public health risk); 3, potential to redevelop a property for public benefit/use (i.e. park/recreation space); 4, potential to eliminate slum and blight in a community; and 5, potential benefit to low-moderate income and/or rural communities.
Site assessments are capped at $50,000 and a locality cannot have more than five assessments funded by the BEST program. Also, a single locality cannot utilize more than 50 percent of the region’s allocation.
For more information about the program, contact USCOG Government Services Director Rick Green at (864) 941-8072 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.