Local Government Issues

Demolitions Done Right

Redeveloping old commercial and industrial properties often involves the demolition of buildings and other structures. In addition to carefully evaluating potential asbestos abatement and demolition contractors, the DNR recommends reviewing the agency’s “demolition, construction and renovation” web page to access important information about statutory and regulatory requirements related to demolition activities. Asbestos, lead, mercury and PCBs are top concerns.

Two key publications include, WA-651: Planning your demolition or renovation project, and AM-366: What you need to know about renovation and demolition.

Completion and submittal of Form 4500-113: Notification for Demolition and/or Renovation is always required, at least 10 days prior to the demolition work.

US EPA Can Help Remove Contaminants at Abandoned Properties

The US EPA can help your community take care of abandoned or otherwise derelict properties that contain drums, barrels and other containers filled with hazardous substances. EPA staff will evaluate the site, analyze the chemicals and search for anyone involved in abandoning or disposing of the hazardous materials on the property.

If a responsible party is located, EPA will work with them to remove and clean up the hazardous materials. If no responsible party is found or the party is unable to complete the work, EPA may directly perform actions needed to address imminent threats. EPA seeks cost recovery from responsible parties whenever appropriate.

At smaller sites, municipalities can conduct the response action themselves and recover costs from EPA through the Local Governments Reimbursement Program. Reimbursement can include such costs as materials and supplies, renting or leasing equipment, special technical and laboratory services, evacuation services, decontamination of equipment, overtime pay for employees, and replacement of equipment that is lost or destroyed.

Contact John Sager, Federal Removals Coordinator at DNR, to see if a property in your community may be eligible for EPA assistance. His phone number is (715) 392-7822, and his email address is John.Sager@wisconsin.gov.

External Advisory Groups Help Guide, Shape DNR Policy

The Remediation and Redevelopment Program puts to good use the skills and knowledge of its customers by working together in a collaborative manner through a number of External Advisory Groups (EAG). In fact, it’s one of the core values of the agency. And with funding from the US EPA’s 128(a) grant, the Brownfields and Outreach Section assists these groups with messaging and keeping customers and the public informed.

Now in its 20th year of advising the agency is the Brownfields Study Group (BSG). The study group is one of the oldest EAGs, created in 1998 at the direction of the Governor and State Legislature to evaluate Wisconsin’s brownfields initiatives and recommend improvements, as well as propose additional incentives for brownfields redevelopment. The BSG continues to drive important brownfields policy changes in Wisconsin and among its successes can count the creation of the Site Assessment Grant Program, which awarded more than $18 million to more than 200 communities before it was transferred to a different agency. The group was also instrumental in developing the One Cleanup Program Agreement with Region 5 EPA, the most comprehensive agreement of its kind, which helps expedite cleanups of properties across the state.

Continue reading “External Advisory Groups Help Guide, Shape DNR Policy”

City of Manitowoc Receives EPA Brownfields Award

The cleanup and redevelopment of the former Mirro Aluminum factories in Manitowoc recently garnered the city an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brownfields award during the recent National Brownfields Conference, held December 5-7 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Award recipients

Receiving the EPA award is Nicolas Sparacio from the city of Manitowoc. He is flanked by Michael Prager, RR Program Land Recycling Team Leader, Margaret Guerriero and Yolanda Bouchee-Cureton, both from the EPA.

The EPA recognized the city for its outstanding efforts to clean up and redevelop two former factories that the city was left with when the Mirro Aluminum Co. closed its manufacturing plants in Manitowoc in 2003. Through persistence and hard work, the city has been successful in transforming the former Mirro Plant No. 3 into loft apartments targeted towards the veteran community and artists. In addition, the city achieved a huge milestone by completing the demolition of the massive Mirro Plant No. 9 and preparing the land for development.

The Wisconsin DNR’s RR Program assisted with Manitowoc’s Mirro cleanups by providing both financial and technical assistance. A summary of the Mirro apartments project can be found in the Program’s 128a Mid-Year Report for 2015-2016.

To learn how RR staff can help with your community’s revitalization efforts, contact your regional Land Recycling team member and request a “Green Team” meeting.

Waterfront Brownfields Projects May Benefit from NFWF Grant

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), along with private and public partners, is accepting applications for the 2018 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program.

The Five Star and Urban Waters program will award approximately $2 million in modest sized grants nationwide. Local governments and non-profit organizations can apply for this funding that can be used to assist with restoration of urban waterfront areas.

Applications are due January 31, 2018.

All application materials must be submitted online through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Easygrants system.

Updates to Wisconsin Spill Law Help Promote Land Recycling

Last November, the Governor signed 2017 Act 70, which modified Wis. Stat. ch. 292 (Wisconsin’s “Spill Law”) to help encourage brownfield cleanup and redevelopment. The Act was based on recommendations made by the Brownfields Study Group in its 2015 report, Investing in Wisconsin.

Modifications to the Spill Law include:

  • Clarification that the off-site liability exemption applies if there is vapor intrusion impacting an off-site property (Wis. Stat. § 292.13(1m))
  • Changing the definition of “property” as it is used for Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE). The new definition is “…an area of real property that is included in an application to obtain an exemption under this section, made up of a legally identifiable parcel or legally identifiable contiguous parcels created in compliance with applicable laws.” (Wis. Stat. § 292.15(1)(c))
  • Specifying the process for changing the footprint for the VPLE “property” after an application has been submitted if the “property” is subdivided, combined with other properties or otherwise changed. (Wis. Stat. § 292.15(2)(at))

The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program’s role with brownfields redevelopment is not directly affected by many of the other provisions in the Act, such as changes to tax incremental districts (TID) requirements for environmental remediation; expansion of the property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing option to include brownfield revitalization projects; expanded options to address tax delinquent brownfields and other provisions.

Program staff will make necessary changes to VPLE documents and webpages and work with the program’s Land Recycling Team to identify other actions needed to implement the changes.

More information on the bill, including descriptions of the provisions in the Act, can be found in Senate Bill 173.

“All Aboard!” Spooner’s Historic Roundhouse Revival

Spooner Roundhouse

Contaminated soils from around the Roundhouse were excavated and hauled off site to the old Spooner Landfill. The Roundhouse area was then capped and seeded. This area will be used for a public space. Spooner will be renovating the Roundhouse as a public space.

The city of Spooner, located in northwestern Wisconsin, pop. 2,700, has a rich railroad heritage. The city’s origin and colorful history is rooted in the railroad expansion of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Spooner was an important railroad center of the Chicago and North Western Railway for many years. A historic railway roundhouse, a surviving turntable, and other aspects of the original rail yard still exist. The Spooner roundhouse is one of the few remaining structures of its kind.

Several local and state organizations have collaborated for years on efforts to clean up environmental contamination and preserve this unique and historic landmark property. The land is in the “Museum District” which also includes the Railroad Memories Museum and the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum. The Roundhouse property includes one of the only working turntables in the state. The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad operates active tracks on the site.

Remediated dirt

The regulatory issues involved in this project were handled through a collaboration of the Wisconsin DNR’s R&R and Waste and Materials Management programs. The excavated soils were placed at the old Spooner Landfill and used as part of a recapping project. The contaminated soils remaining at the site were capped and seeded.

Many years of railroad activities and subsequent manufacturing uses led to concerns about possible environmental contamination on the property. Section 128(a) funding from the EPA contributed to several successful Green Team project meetings with the Wisconsin DNR, the city of Spooner, and other stakeholders. Section 128(a) funds also supported the Wisconsin DNR’s efforts to counsel the city on managing environmental liability and other communications with the city. Spooner further received Phase I ESA contractor services through the Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Assessments Money (WAM) program, funded by the EPA ARC Assessment grants, prior to its acquisition of the roundhouse property.

Contaminated soils from around the roundhouse were excavated and disposed of at the old city landfill, as part of a recapping project. The roundhouse property was then capped and seeded. The property will be open to the public, and the city of Spooner is also renovating the roundhouse as a public space.

Roundhouse turntable

The Roundhouse property includes one of the only working turntables in the state.

The success of this northern Wisconsin cleanup site is highlighted in the recent year-end Report, a summary of the outcomes funded by a Section 128(a) grant from the US EPA made to the Wisconsin DNR’s Brownfields program. Previous 128(a) reports, including mid-year and year-end summaries going back to 2012, can be found on the DNR’s RR Program web page.

 

Brownfields Success: West Milwaukee

With the “snick” of a ceremonial scissor, the new Burnham Business Center officially opens for business in West Milwaukee. This former Auto Paradise site has a long history as a carriage and cartage company, going back to the early 1900s. Most recently, the site was used to disassemble cars, stripping them of all usable pieces before recycling the remaining parts.

Burnham Business Center

A portion of the new, 83,000 square foot Burnham Business Center along W. Burnham Street in West Milwaukee. The facility recently opened after guidance from the DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment program.

The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program in the Southeast Region started guiding the cleanup investigation back in February of 2016. With an approved remediation plan in place, the SER team is now evaluating plans for long-term groundwater monitoring. The site is currently in the DNR’s VPLE program, a process by which an individual, business or unit of government, can voluntarily conduct an environmental investigation and cleanup of a property and then receive limits on their liability for historical contamination on that property.

The new 83,000 sq. ft. light industrial facility has eight tractor-trailer bays which facilitates the cross-transfer of a variety of products. As part of the site development, work crews also conducted a stream bank improvement project, where the banks of this unnamed stream were hardened and properly re-sloped.

 The ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new facility was held October 24.

EPA Grant Available for Environmental Workforce Development, Job Training; Webinar-based Application Assistance Available

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now accepting Request for Proposals (RFPs) for FY18 grants related to environmental workforce development and job training. These grants are provided to eligible entities, including nonprofit organizations, to develop environmental programs that recruit, train and place unemployed and under-employed residents of communities affected by brownfields and other environmental contamination with the skills needed to secure full-time, sustainable employment in the environmental field and in assessment and cleanup work taking place in their communities.

The grants, called Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grants, may be funded up to $200,000 over a three-year period.

To assist applicants with their proposals, EPA will hold an informational webinar for prospective grant applicants. The webinar will be held on November 7, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. EST. It will be recorded and posted to EPA’s brownfields website.

The deadline to submit an RFP is December 15, 2017. All proposals must be submitted through the grants.gov website.

DNR Brownfields Report of Annual Accomplishments Now Available

The Remediation and Redevelopment Program’s annual report to the US EPA of brownfields accomplishments, which details a year-long effort of outputs and outcomes funded by a federal grant, is now available online. The Section 128(a) Grant Final Accomplishments Report, for the reporting period of September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017, highlights work completed in the previous funding year.

The “128(a) Final Report” includes a summary of the various metrics tracked during the year (Green Team meetings, outreach activities, etc.), highlights a number of successful cleanups and redevelopments from across the state, and features a number of important program improvements undertaken during the year.

Previous 128(a) reports can be found on the Brownfields Program web page.