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Five Oklahoma groups receive EPA cleanup Grants

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (AP) 4-08

Five Oklahoma groups will split $2.6 million in federal money to clean up polluted land and buildings, officials said.

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program, the groups, which include two American Indian tribes, will use the funding to convert places like oil fields, landfills and asbestos-contaminated buildings into usable space.

State Secretary of the Environment Miles Tolbert said during April the program is part of the fix to a “throwaway society.”

“When we have contaminated the land, we need to clean it up,” Tolbert said. “We don’t throw it away. We recycle it. And that’s what Brownfields is about, recycling the land.”

Besides tribes, nonprofit groups and governmental agencies can apply. Since 1995, Oklahoma has received $10.3 million in the grant money to do projects such as asbestos removal from the Skirvin Hotel and the vacant Nuway Cleaners building, both in Oklahoma City.

Love Link Ministries Inc. will use $37,130 of the EPA money to rehabilitate the Nuway Cleaners building, which will be used as an American Indian crafts market, thrift store, ministry center and soup kitchen for the homeless.

“I don’t want to see anything thrown away, you know,” said the Rev. Wayne Stark of the nonprofit group. His group is being bumped from its current location by the rerouted Crosstown Expressway.

Nationally, the EPA awarded $74 million in grants, 3.5 percent of which went to Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City was awarded $2.2 million for the city’s Empowerment Zone, which includes land where former oil and gas exploration, scrap metal sites and chemical companies operated.

The Latino Community Development Agency plans to use its $200,000 to clean up the former JC Penny building in southwest Oklahoma City, where it wants to set up offices to offer social services to Hispanic people.

The Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma received $156,466 to clean up the former Lillard Pipe Supply in Tecumseh for use as a training center, and the Cherokee Nation will use $104,000 to clean up the Saline Courthouse.

 

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