Vacant since 2007, this toxic manufacturing site in Keokuk, Iowa will finally be cleaned, reused and economically revitalized

On June 6, 2023, at the Elkem-Carbide brownfield site in Keokuk, Iowa, EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister presented a $2 million ceremonial check to the City of Keokuk as a Brownfields Cleanup Grant selectee.

Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leveraged an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar.

McCollister was joined by city leaders Mayor Kathie Mahoney and City Administrator Cole O’Donnell, Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission (SEIRPC) Assistant Director Zach James, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste and Contaminated Sites Supervisor Mike Sullivan.

The Elkem-Carbide site has been abandoned for 20-plus years with a declining valuation. The grant from the EPA will let the community begin to rehabilitate the property, providing opportunities for growth,” Mahoney said.

A clean site will allow the city to eventually establish the property as a certified site for economic development. This certification will give Keokuk an edge over other sites when recruiting new business and industry. This grant is just the first step in the cleanup process and every successful endeavor needs a first step,” he explained.

Grant funds will be used to clean up the Elkem-Carbide Site Redevelopment Platt 1 property located at 365 Carbide Lane.

The cleanup site was historically used for industrial operations, including as a zinc smelter and lead alloying facility, and carbide manufacturing.

It has been vacant since 2007, and is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, and inorganic contaminants.

We are really excited about this opportunity for the City of Keokuk,” James said. “After over a decade of SEIRPC and city staff work getting the site assessment completed and transferring the property to the city, EPA cleanup funds will help to jump-start the cleanup and redevelopment of this longtime dilapidated property in Keokuk.”

Grant funds also will be used to support community outreach activities.

These investments are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to grow the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private-sector manufacturing and clean-energy investments in the United States.

These investments will also create a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, build a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

This Brownfields Grant is a significant step toward cleaning up contamination at a vacant former industrial site,” McCollister said. “We are proud to once again partner with Keokuk, and we share their commitment to enhancing the lives of those who live near this site by cleaning up contamination and engaging with the community.

This grant program is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

EPA selected these organizations to receive funding to address and support the reuse of brownfield sites. EPA anticipates making all the recently announced awards, once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.

EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfields Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfield sites have leveraged over $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment.

Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding has leveraged nearly 260,000 jobs from both public and private sources.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 8-11, 2023, in Detroit, Michigan. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

All photos courtesy of the City of Keokuk.

Learn more about EPA’s Brownfields grants.

See City of Keokuk’s brownfields website.

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