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State awards $3 million in EPA funds for cleanup efforts at Fort Sisseton, Box Elder, Sioux Falls, Lead • South Dakota Searchlight

Sioux Falls, Fort Sisseton Historic State Park, Box Elder and the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead will benefit from $3 million in cleanup funds awarded Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The money comes from the EPA’s Brownfields Program, which provides grants to state and local partners to assess and remediate contaminated sites across the country. According to a press release from the EPA, President Biden’s Infrastructure Reinvestment and Recovery Act increased the program’s funding by 400%.

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The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources will use its $2 million share of the grant funding for cleanup efforts at:

  • Falls Park, Quarry Lake and the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls.
  • Fort Sisseton Historic State Park in the northeast corner of the state.
  • Villa Ranchaero in Box Elder.

For Falls Park, the needs are related to pollution from former landfills. The work includes environmental assessments, dredging and soil sampling, as well as water quality testing and testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, or “forever chemicals”) at Falls Park and Quarry Lake. The fairgrounds will pay for the money to test for methane, PFAS and other risks to the Big Sioux River.

At Fort Sisseton, the money will allow construction of a new visitors center, the news release said, which will include environmental testing and asbestos and lead paint studies in historic buildings. The 10-acre Villa Ranchaero property near Ellsworth Air Force Base will see environmental assessments conducted for safety as the area is now home to several retail stores.

The South Dakota Science and Technology Authority operates the research facility at Lead, the deepest underground science laboratory in the US

The $1 million portion of the funds will be used to clean up properties contaminated with asbestos and assess environmental issues related to hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds, lead-based paint and metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic.

Redevelopment plans include a new main entrance to the facility and a return to “safe use of contaminated areas” on the site, the news release said. The laboratory is located on the site of the former Homestake gold mine.

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