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Kentucky receiving $8M to clean up contaminated industrial, commercial properties 

Jul 29, 2023Jul 29, 2023

In total, the EPA is distributing grants ranging from $500,000 to nearly $2 million to clean up 10 sites around Kentucky.

They include renovations at downtown buildings, former gas stations, and vacant factories in communities stretching from Caldwell County in western Kentucky to Ashland in eastern Kentucky.

State Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman met with EPA officials and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg for the announcement at the Lynn Family Soccer Stadium in Louisville, which is a redeveloped industrial site itself.

“It’s important to us to get out there and really work on some of these communities and try and bring these lands into some kind of productive use,” Goodman said.

State officials estimate there are at least 3,000 known, active brownfields that were once home to businesses and industry, but are now vacant and polluted. They said there are likely thousands more unidentified sites. That environmental legacy is the footprint of Kentucky’s former industrial might in the coal and steel industries that helped the country prosper amid and after two world wars, Goodman said.

But it’s also part of the history of Kentucky’s small towns where downtown buildings can sit vacant for decades because the funding isn’t available to clean up the lead and asbestos leftover from previous generations of construction.

Some of the grant funding will go toward assessing the environmental problems. For example, the city of Beatyville is receiving nearly $500,000 to study a two-story structure built in 1939 previously used as a city hall, jail and firehouse.

Other funding will go directly toward cleanup, like the nearly $1 million grant OakPointe Centre, Inc. in Somerset is receiving to rehab a 144,000-square-foot sewing factory and warehouse built in 1946.

Amanda LeFevre with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection said the additional funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is transformational for the state.

“Never have I seen the amount of money out there that you can apply for, but also the support, because they know a lot of the communities that are applying are disadvantaged,” LeFevre said.

Below is a full list of projects receiving EPA funding from the Energy and Environment Cabinet: