Several brownfield projects in Calhoun County will be cleaned up thanks to grants from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. EPA announced Wednesday that $1.7 million will be distributed among four Western Michigan brownfield projects to assess and clean up contaminated properties. Two of the projects are in Calhoun County. The other projects are in Ottawa and St. Joseph counties. The grants will be from the agency’s Brownfields Program and part of $65.6 million in funding for 155 grants nationwide.

The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority will receive $600,000 towards 32 environmental site assessments county-wide (17 Phase I and 15 Phase II sites). Two of the focused areas under the grant will be the Dickman Road corridor near the former Semco Energy facility in Battle Creek and the former Gale Industries and Brown Welding sites in Albion.

Calhoun County Treasurer and Authority Chair Brian Wensauer stated in the EPA's release that the Land Bank is "grateful for the grant from the EPA" and "eager to get to work with the coalition partners to asses the environmental challenges in the county."

Another $500,000 will go to the county to clean up a former waste disposal area, known as The Mound, near the Calhoun County Courthouse in Battle Creek. The site had been historically used for waste disposal by rail lines and residences, along with excavated soil and fill materials from a nearby construction project. The Mound has been contaminated with heavy metals, naphthalene and trichloroethylene (TCE). The area has been vacant since the early 1990s, shortly before the opening of the current Calhoun County Courthouse and Jail on East Michigan Avenue.

The Mound, just east of the Calhoun County Courthouse and Jail, in Battle Creek. (Tim Collins-Townsquare Media)

Calhoun County Board of Commissioners Chair Steve Frisbie said that the clean-up of the area has been "a long time coming and (we) are pleased to be awarded the funds that will allow Calhoun County to clean up this site and position it for further development."

The other grants were worth $300,000 each for Ottawa and St. Joseph counties. In Ottawa County, the grant funds will be used to asses 22 environmental sites in Grand Haven and Hudsonville. In St. Joseph County, 16 environmental sites will be assessed in two areas of Three Rivers, including the Old Three Rivers Hospital area in downtown.

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