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County receives more Brownfields grant funding

Cleanup plans are being prepared for contaminated sites like the former Coaldale Junction truck stop and the Tonopah Airport Fixed Base Operator building, after assessments using a $1 million five-county Brownfields Assessment Grant.

Nye County Manager Pam Webster Tuesday announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded another $600,000 to study the cleanup of more sites under the Brownfields program, which addresses properties with industrial contamination in an attempt to clean them up for redevelopment.

The Rural Desert Southwest Brownfields Coalition includes Nye, Esmeralda, Lincoln and White Pine counties in Nevada and Inyo County in California. The latest grant, expected to arrive in December, will also include Mineral County.

Nye County also used grant funds to study possible contamination on two parcels at the gateway to the Mountain Falls development in Pahrump, which includes a water tank and 19 parcels owned by Pahrump Utility Company Inc. at the time Nye County was considering purchasing the utility. Both sites had possible agricultural contamination, but the phase I assessments didn’t uncover any evidence of contamination at those Pahrump sites.

The Mountain Falls gateway property is intended to be marketed as a mixed use of hotel and retail development, according to the study.The coalition suggested developing a marketing strategy through the Nye County Regional Economic Development Authority (NCREDA).

Nye County Geoscience Manager Levi Kryder said the coalition did 31 phase I environmental assessments on 259.85 acres, 20 of them in Nye County. A phase I survey is a desk top study reviewing reports that could indicate any contamination from previous activities. Ten projects comprising 185.32 acres were recommended for phase II environmental assessments, which includes actual sampling and analysis at the sites. Cleanups were proposed on five parcels including one in Nye County.

The coalition will use money from a $1 million Brownfields Revolving Loan fund awarded in October 2013 to give grants to property owners to clean up the properties.

The study uncovered contamination from petroleum, lead-based paint, asbestos and heavy metals at the Tonopah Fixed Base Operator building which is owned by the county and includes supports, buildings and structures. Kryder said the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has ordered a cleanup at the airport after the phase I and phase II studies. The county plans to demolish the current buildings and reconstruct facilities using steel pre-fabricated structures.

The former Coaldale truck stop, which includes the remnants of a cafe, motel and gas station on 40 acres at the junction of Highway 6 and 95 lying 41 miles west of Tonopah has been abandoned since the mid 1990s. The phase I and phase II environmental assessments found asbestos, lead-based paint and petroleum hydrocarbons above regulatory levels in samples.

The cleanup plan at Coaldale Junction includes removing potential hazards and blighted structures to protect the public and improve the aesthetic character of the property.

Previous Brownfields cleanups, not funded with these current grants, included the cleanup of the Pink Motel, also known as the Silver Strike Motel in Tonopah, which was demolished and replaced with the Pahrump Fire Department building and a seasonal farmer’s market. Brownfields agreements also funded the reconstruction of the former Gabbs recreation hall, the Beatty habitat trails project and installing solar photo-voltaic panels at the county commission buildings in Pahrump.

The old Tonopah courthouse, a mill site in Amargosa Valley, the Armscor Precision International building in Pahrump, a power company substation and the former Willow Creek golf course in Pahrump were identified as possible sites of interest to be studied with the new grant.

The Brownfields program has an emphasis on bringing renewable energy projects to some previously contaminated properties to spur economic development, Kryder said. As a result of the Brownfields assessments, developers have pursued renewable energy projects, namely the SolarReserve 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes project, the 65-megawatt First Solar project planned in Amargosa Valley and a 152-megawatt wind project near Ely, the coalition report states.

The coalition work plan, approved by Nye County Commissioners Tuesday, suggests future development of Brownfields sites not only for renewable energy but constructing electric vehicle recharging stations, promoting the indoor agriculture industry, support for the unmanned aerial vehicles or drone program, constructing a medical manufacturing facility, as well as renovating and preserving historic sites.

The Brownfields program also includes an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant to train workers for jobs on Brownfields assessment and cleanup activities. About 160 residents have graduated from the training programs, according to county commissioner Butch Borasky, the liaison for the Nevada Workforce Development Board.

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