For Immediate Release
September 19th, 2018
The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation is spearheading a major economic development project in Estill County, Kentucky. The proposed Kentucky Railway Heritage Center is to be located on a 100-year old rail yard currently owned by CSX Transportation, and the purchase of a property of this type requires a major amount of work during the due diligence period.
KSHC and CSX signed a purchase/sales agreement in May, and part of the process of closing on the property has involved Kentucky Steam covering all our bases, especially when it comes to protecting ourselves and the community from potential environmental issues. With the cooperation of CSX, Kentucky Steam has been awarded nearly $160,000 worth of work by the EPA through the Targeted Brownfields Assessment Program, thus ensuring liability protection to KSHC, and helping to target and remedy any potential environmental risks on the site.
Kentucky Steam sat down with Bob Rosen, EPA Brownfields Project Manager, to discuss what this all means. We hope this helps shed some light on what it is the EPA has contributed to this endeavor!
KSHC: How is the EPA supporting the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation’s Rail Heritage Center project?
-BR: The EPA is providing support through the Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA) program; each EPA office receives discretionary funds in order to support a limited number of assessments. TBAs are conducted at no cost to the applicant, who must be either a government entity or a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. TBA is designed to help communities obtain assessments in order to expedite moving the property through assessment, possibly cleanup, then reuse/redevelopment.
KSHC: How much is allocated for this specific project?
-BR: We have a statutory cap of $200,000 per assessment, but we rarely approach that amount simply because it represents a rather substantial portion of our annual TBA budget. In your instance, we are investing a bit more than usual because of the promise this project brings to Ravenna and the surrounding area. We anticipate the project will end up costing approximately $160,000, making this one of our more expensive assessments.
KSHC: Who is doing the work?
-BR: EPA has two dedicated contractors who perform a very wide range of duties including; emergency response to oil spills and hazardous materials releases; emergency response to disasters such as BP and hurricanes; technical assistance and oversight at Superfund removal actions; Superfund remedial site assessments; and Targeted Brownfields Assessments, among other duties. For this project, I have selected TetraTech EMI. TetraTech has a great deal of experience and expertise in conducting assessments and also has a strong presence in Kentucky.
KSHC: Why is this necessary?
-BR: Assessment is necessary for a number of reasons. First, when you conduct a Phase I assessment prior to obtaining a potentially contaminated property (a Brownfields site), the Phase I provides federal environmental liability protection. This means you can purchase or receive the property without becoming a federal responsible party under the CERCLA law. Although you obtain liability protection, you still may have to conduct some level of cleanup of environmental contaminants, depending on your proposed land use and the contaminants present. A Phase II assessment is conducted in order to determine what contaminants are present, where they are present (soil, sediments, groundwater, building materials, etc), and the levels of contamination. A Phase II provides the information necessary to determine what contaminants may need to be cleaned up or remediated, or otherwise addressed through land use protection or engineering controls (such as caps).
KSHC: What does this all do for the Kentucky Steam Heritage’s project?
-BR: As I already described, the Phase I shows you have performed your due diligence prior to obtaining the property, which absolves you of federal environmental liability (provided you do not further contribute towards site contamination), and defines the level and extent of contamination on the site. Additionally, after the Phase II results have been compiled, we prepare an Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) which is really just a set of cleanup/remediation alternatives based on the contaminants found and the proposed land use. The ABCA will spell out approximate costs for various options so you can determine the best fit for your needs and budgetary constraints.
KSHC: Anything else you’d like to add? We appreciate your comprehensive answers and we are grateful for the help that the EPA is contributing to make this project a success!
-BR: Sure! EPA Region 4 Brownfields is pleased to be able to conduct a Targeted Brownfields Assessment for the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center. Our hope is that the assessment work we perform will be an important step in the process of obtaining the property and eventually redeveloping it for the purposes stated in the TBA application. Our goal is to help communities take Brownfields properties and move them back into productive use and in a manner that supports the local community.