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Local teens will learn how to clean up polluted sites with a $500k federal grant

U.S EPA Region 5 Administrator in front of the now-vacant Lunkenheimer Valve Building in South Fairmount.
Becca Costello
U.S EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore (center, red jacket) toured the Lick Run Greenway in South Fairmount, and got a view of the now-vacant Lunkenheimer Valve Building, a brownfield site.

A U.S. EPA official traveled to Cincinnati this week to celebrate a $500,000 grant to train young people on green workforce jobs.

Groundwork Ohio River Valley will recruit and train 40 teens to clean up brownfield sites in the area. Brownfield sites are properties that are abandoned or underutilized due to industrial pollution. The sites are often former locations of factories or gas stations and can contain contaminants from chemicals or metals.

In addition to recruitment and training, Groundwork Ohio River Valley, a local organization, also will place workers as part of the environmental jobs grant.

RELATED: Long neglected, the Mill Creek Corridor is getting renewed attention

Debra Shore, administrator for U.S. EPA Region 5, visited Cincinnati Wednesday.

"Cincinnati's air, land and water bear the imprint of the industries that this area once sustained. In fact, Mill Creek has had the unfortunate reputation as one of the most endangered rivers in North America," Shore said. "But we're reckoning with that legacy, bringing into view more environmentally just, biologically diverse communities."

Groundwork Ohio River Valley works with nearly 200 teens on green workforce programs every year. Teens chosen for this federal grant program will be from climate vulnerable neighborhoods, like those near highways or with very little tree canopy.

"Since its inception, an important part of the brownfield program has been to recruit, train and place unemployed or underemployed residents of affected communities," Shore said. "Through the brownfields job training program, graduates develop the skills needed for secure full-time green jobs that have an immediate impact on their own communities."

RELATED: Cincinnati mulls zoning changes for South Fairmount

Shore toured the Lick Run Greenway in South Fairmount, a $100 million project daylighting a stream once buried; it includes a park and better stormwater management, reducing how much untreated sewage is released into the Mill Creek during heavy rain events.

Right next to the Greenway is a brownfield site likely to be part of the green jobs grant: the now-vacant Lunkenheimer Valve Building.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.