Environmental Protection

St. Nicks Alliance Provides Training through Brownfields Grants

Walter Mugdan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional director of Emergency Response and Remedial Division, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Councilmember Diana Reyna recently checked on the progress of an EPA-funded job training program at St. Nicks Alliance in Brooklyn, N.Y. and to speak with students and community members about the importance of green jobs.

St. Nicks Alliance was a recent recipient of $500,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to help train community members for jobs assessing and cleaning up brownfields sites.

"In many ways, EPA’s Brownfields program was an idea ahead of its time,"said Mugdan. "It was one of the first big national programs to put money into the hands of organizations and local governments that not only creates jobs and teaches valuable skills to those seeking employment, but also ultimately cleans up our communities."

St. Nicks has a well-established, highly successful training program and plans to train 244 participants, graduate 195 students, and place 146 graduates in environmental careers. Six 12-week, 450-hour cycles of environmental remediation technician training will include six to nine certifications for at least 180 students. Four 8-week, 160-hour cycles of commercial truck driving training will be offered to at least 54 students. One 12-week, 320-hour cycle of photovoltaic solar panel installation training will include one to two certifications for 10 students. St. Nicks has strong employment partnerships with local business owners and remediation firms that will facilitate placement of graduates in environmental jobs.

Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $25 million in brownfields job training funds. More than 5,000 people have completed EPA-funded training programs, with more than 3,250 obtaining employment in the environmental fields, earning an average wage of $13.81 per hour. EPA established the Brownfields Job Training Program to help residents take advantage of jobs created by the assessment, cleanup and sustainable reuse of brownfields sites and to ensure that the economic benefits derived from brownfields redevelopment remain in the affected communities.

Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Brownfields Law) was passed. The Brownfields Law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands or sites contaminated by petroleum or the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs. EPA’s Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

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