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Environmental notebook

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | May 16, 2021 at 4:22 a.m.

2 areas get grants

for 'brownfields'

Two communities in the state were awarded $300,000 federal grants as part of a nationwide effort to assess and clean up contaminated or abandoned "brownfields" -- industrial and commercial properties that contain hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday more than $66 million in grants to 151 communities nationwide. An estimated 450,000 brownfields -- including abandoned industrial facilities, waste disposal sites and former gas stations -- are in cities, towns and rural areas throughout the country, according to a news release.

Chicot County and the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District in Fort Smith will receive assessment grants that will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments and community outreach. Overall, 107 of these grants make up $42.2 million of the agency's funding with another $15.5 million for 36 cleanup grants and $8.8 million for 11 multipurpose grants.

"Through our Brownfields Program, EPA is delivering on the Biden Administration's commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America, especially communities that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and decay," agency Administrator Michael S. Regan said in the news release. "These assessment and cleanup grants will not only support economic growth and job creation, but they will also empower communities to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land."

Beaver Lake area

flooding in study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a new study into frequent flooding problems along the public-private shared boundary on Beaver Lake and opened it to public comment Tuesday.

When land was originally acquired for Beaver Lake in the 1950s, the government's plan was to purchase property around the inundation area up to 1,128 feet above sea level, but funding and resources limited the effort, according to a May 3 news release by the Corps. This has led to private property being flooded during periods of high water as Beaver Lake acts as a flood-control reservoir.

The Corps study will examine the issue, prepare alternatives and, if approved, begin acquiring some of the low-lying areas, according to the news release.

Anyone with comments, concerns or questions about the Beaver Lake Land Acquisition Study can email CESWL-BeaverLakeAcquisitionPublicComment@usace.army.mil or fill out an online comment card at go.usa.gov/xsQyt. The comment period ends June 10.

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