Bear Paw Development Corp. is taking another step forward in identifying and cleaning up contaminated locations in order to open them up for economic development. Bear Paw has set public meetings next week to provide information on its Brownfield Program and to start identifying sites to be assessed. “We are really just getting started on the process,” Christin Hileman, Brownfields Program coordinator for Bear Paw, said this morning. Bear Paw was awarded $400,000 in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act money through the federal Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program to assess contaminated sites in its region. The grant is broken into two parts: • A $200,000 grant to assess contamination by petroleum products. • A $200,000 grant to assess contamination by hazardous substances. The purpose of the assessment program is to identify what sites have been contaminated, which then can be cleaned up and used for commercial purposes. It also will identify sites which are believed to be contaminated when they actually are not, Hileman said. Actual or perceived contamination often leads to property sitting idle, and the Brownfields Program works to bring those properties back into operation. The work done by Bear Paw so far has been to select a consultant to assess the identified sites. Hileman said the nat ional f i rm AMEC Geomatrix, which has offices in Missoula and Helena, has been hired. Chris Cerquone of the Missoula office will be working on Bear Paw’s project, and will be at the public meetings next week, she said. Hileman added that Cerquone has worked on Brownfield assessments for several years, including doing recent assessments of sites in the Wolf Point area. “He is familiar with rural Montana and Brownfield sites that exist in these areas,”she said. Hileman said community members and landowners will be able to ask Cerquone questions about Brownfields and the assessment and cleanup process, learn about the process in selecting sites for assessment, as well as providing information to Bear Paw about possible sites. Once sites are identified, the property owners are eligible to apply for funds to clean up the sites, Hileman said the EPA’s Brownfield Program has both grants and money available through a revolving loan fund to pay for the cleanup. The meetings start Monday with the first at 5:30 p.m. in the Fort Benton Ci ty Counci l Chambers. Next Tuesday meetings are set at 11 a.m. in the Harlem City Council Chambers and at 6:30 p.m. in Malta, following the Malta City Council meeting, in the City Council Chambers. Wednesday, March 10, meetings are set at 10 a.m. in Spud’s Cafe in Chester and at 6 p.m. at the Pastime Lounge Meeting Room in Chinook. The meetings come to Havre Thursday, March 11, in the Bear Paw Development conference room at 7 a.m. and then to Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in the Stone Child College Foyer at 11 a.m. To find more information about Bear Paw’s Brownfields Program, people can visit the economic development corporation’s Web site at www.bearpaw. org or call Hileman at 265-9226.
Meetings planned on pollution cleanup
Published: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
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