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EPA seeks $2 million cleanup of Schuylkill River property near Bartram’s Garden

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced this on Monday that it will spend $2 million to clean up a former oil terminal that local officials are calling the “final piece of the puzzle” of a major redevelopment project along the Schuylkill waterfront near Bartram’s Garden.

The parcel is part of plans for what is called the Lower Schuylkill Biotech Campus, which would be home to the Bartram’s Mile Trail. a 1.55-mile paved trail that extends through the garden in southwest Philadelphia. The project, led by the nonprofit Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC), aims to bring jobs and recreation to a once heavily industrialized and polluted part of the river’s west bank.

Officials said the grant, funded by the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will be used by PIDC will be cleaning up the 49th Street Terminal at 1700 S. 49th St. The site, just under one hectare, was an oil terminal from 1942 to 2006. It is currently vacant and contaminated with petroleum and semi-volatile organic compounds.

When it closed, the terminal became yet another contaminated, unusable lot in Kingsessing.

But the land is part of a series of parcels reclaimed along Bartram’s Mile for the planned 40-acre campus, which would be divided into a 20-acre portion north of Bartram’s Garden and a 20-acre portion south of it. Officials hope to lure companies involved in cell and gene therapy production. However, plans are still being developed.

Jodie Harris, president of PDIC, founded by the City of Philadelphia and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, said the contamination and cleanup of the 49th Street Terminal is still being assessed.

“This project provides a long-awaited investment in a predominantly African American community that has not received sufficient investment or resources, Harris said.”

Angie Fredrickson, vice president of real estate services at PIDC, said the 49th Street Terminal site is “the final piece of the puzzle” in moving forward with the campus.

$300 million nationwide

The grant for the 49th Street Terminal was part of $300 million announced by the Biden administration to address contaminated brownfields, which are often located in communities where 20% or more people live at or below the federal poverty line and 30% or more identify as a minority. .

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan made the national announcement for the grants at the 49th Street Terminal site. Grants will go toward cleanup at 180 sites across the U.S., including others in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“President Biden sees contaminated sites and blighted areas as an opportunity to invest in healthier, revitalized communities,” Regan said. “That’s why he secured historic funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, boosting EPA’s Brownfields Program to clean up contaminated properties in overburdened communities and return them to productive use.”

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle L. Parker thanked Biden and said, “Thanks to these historic resources, we are going further and faster than ever before to clean up contaminated sites to spur economic redevelopment.”

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, whose Fifth District includes the waterfront, said the cleanup will “open up previously inaccessible areas along the Schuylkill River, creating access to safe and affordable economic and recreational opportunities.”

Other local cleanups receiving funding:

  1. $1 million to Camden Lutheran Housing Inc. to clean up the site of the former West Jersey Paper Manufacturing Site in Camden, which is vacant and contaminated with heavy metals, arsenic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PCBs.

  2. $500,000 to the Camden Redevelopment Agency to conduct environmental assessments in East Camden, including a former chemical manufacturing site.