Northwest Indiana Cities
EPA Brownfields Initiative
EPA's Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield site is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. On January 11, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. Under the Brownfields Law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through four competitive grant programs: assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants, and job training grants. Additionally, funding support is provided to state and tribal response programs through a separate mechanism.
Date of Announcement: Jul 1996
Profile: The Pilot targets brownfields formerly used in the iron and steel industries in the Cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago in Northwest Indiana.
EPA Region 5 selected the Cities of Gary, East Chicago, and Hammond in Indiana (known as Northwest Indiana), in partnership with EPA's Common Sense Initiative (CSI) Iron and Steel Sector Brownfields Workgroup, for a Regional Brownfields Pilot. This Pilot complements a geographic initiative being conducted by EPA's Region 5 and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to respond to environmental degradation in Northwest Indiana. Northwest Indiana has been home to heavy industry for the last century. Major land use changes since the 1970s have resulted in downsizing of industry and creation of numerous brownfields in prime locations. Since 1980, industrial employment declined by 35 percent and population decreased by 18 percent. A combined total of 3,875 acres of abandoned industrial properties exist in Gary, East Chicago, and Hammond. Potential environmental liability, vague cleanup guidelines, and lack of financing are thwarting their reuse while the tax base shrinks and employment and property values fall. Working with the CSI Iron and Steel Brownfields Workgroup, site assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment issues particular to the industry in the region are being addressed.
The objectives of the brownfields project are to identify and remove threats to health and safety, and restore brownfields impacted by the iron and steel industry to productive use. The project is dedicated to the restoration of the economic and environmental health of the three cities through a broad stakeholder partnership and extensive community involvement. The cities have identified three major aims: 1) identifying and removing threats to the health and safety of residents caused by environmental degradation at the brownfields; 2) restoring brownfields to productive use by appropriate cleanup; and 3) creating sustainable economic opportunities with new jobs while protecting the environment.
The Pilot has:
- Selected one brownfields site in each of the three communities as focal points of the Pilot, with input from a series of public meetings. These sites are the West Point Industrial Park in Hammond, American Steel Foundries in East Chicago, and Gary Machine in Gary; and
- Publicized Pilot activities in a variety of ways including: a radio talk-show appearance by Pilot representatives; an article in Barron's magazine; and a cable TV program on the Pilot aired in January 1997.
The Pilot is:
- Coordinating with the EPA Common Sense Initiative Iron and Steel Sector Brownfields Workgroup and integrating the "Brownfields Guiding Principles," developed by the Workgroup into the Pilots' activities;
- Conducting site assessments of candidate redevelopment properties, and developing remediation plans and objectives;
- Evaluating existing remediation legal authorities and their impact on the redevelopment of the sites; and
- Developing a professional resource manual to promote information about and investment in brownfields redevelopment in Northwest Indiana.
Leveraging Other Activities
Experience with the Northwest Indiana Cities Pilot has been a catalyst for related activities including the following.
- IDEM has contributed $200,000 to the Pilot to match EPA's funding.
- Based on the Pilot's community input process for site selection, the IDEM conducted site assessments on the American Steel and West Point Sites. IDEM has indicated that no remediation will be required.
- As a result of the Pilot's media efforts, relationships with a wide array of stakeholders were developed. Four individuals representing major redevelopment projects in the area have contacted the Pilot requesting the Pilot's participation and assistance.
For further information, including specific grant contacts, additional grant information, brownfields news and events, and publications and links, visit the EPA Brownfields Web site (http://www.epa.gov/brownfields).
EPA Region 5 Brownfields Team
EPA Region 5 Brownfields Web site (http://www.epa.gov/R5Brownfields)
Grant Recipient: Indiana Department of Environmental Management
The information presented in this fact sheet comes from the grant proposal; EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. The cooperative agreement for the grant has not yet been negotiated. Therefore, activities described in this fact sheet are subject to change.