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City of Springfield to train 112 students for hazardous material cleanup using EPA grant

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Theresa Bettmann
/
KSMU
The Fairbanks community hub was an abandoned brownfield property in Springfield before it was cleaned up through Brownfields funding.

The Environmental Protection Agency gave the City of Springfield $500,000 to train students to clean up polluted properties in the city. The city says the funds will bring jobs to underserved communities.

Brownfield sites are properties that could be contaminated with hazardous materials like asbestos, mold and lead.

The Brownfield Job Training grant educates workers how to safely clean up these sites, so they can be reused. Springfield has received brownfield grants before, but this year’s check is more than double previous grants. This comes after a federal bipartisan infrastructure law authorized $1.5 billion dollars in federal funding for brownfield programs.

Shannan Beisser, spokesperson for the EPA, says the grant will help the city expand its certification program, hold night classes, and recruit workers from correctional facilities.

“The program is really a win for individuals who are getting a fresh career start, and it’s a win for the community as a whole because they then have a skilled environmental workforce that can do these cleanups,” Beisser told KSMU.

Katherine Trombetta, Missouri Job Center spokesperson, says the city will use these funds to train 112 students to safely clean up these sites over a three-year period. She also says Springfield plans to put 70 students to work in environmental jobs.

Beisser says Springfield contains roughly 350 brownfield properties, with nearly 100 properties being cleaned up or redeveloped. Seventeen of those have been cleaned up with federal brownfield money.

Those interested in applying for the free job training through the grant can do so here.

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.