EPA Gives Green Bay Funds to Remove Asbestos, Other Hazardous Materials

Illustration of potential asbestos exposure in a building

Green Bay will be receiving a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help with its redevelopment efforts. The grant will go towards assessments for hazardous materials like asbestos and petroleum products.

The old Larsen Canning property in downtown Green Bay benefited as the grant funds paid for an assessment to discover it was a brownfield property. It’s the only brownfield that has benefitted and now it’s been redeveloped into a multi-use tenant building called the Rail Yard.

“Brownfield is basically a site that has contamination, generally within two categories: petroleum products and then hazardous materials,” said Green Bay Development Director Kevin Vonck.

“There were a lot of old railroad track through that property. It was an industrial site so it’s not uncommon to have some environmental challenges,” said Larsen Canning property owner Paul Belschner.

“A lot of that is made possible due to the environmental remediation grants provided by the EPA,” said Belschner. “It dawned on us this past weekend as we saw the news feed regarding the demolition of the Mirro building in Manitowoc.”

“How that the former Larsen Canning building may have been to the same fate had we not been able to work with the city and the state and the federal government to utilize these environmental protection type funds, our building may have fallen victim to the same fate,” stated Belschner.

The Metreau Apartments, the KI Convention Center, the Hampton Inn, City Deck, and City Deck Landing were all brownfields at one point and the tax base paid for their redevelopments.

Construction workers especially need to be careful or risk asbestos exposure. Asbestos rules and regulations must be followed when redeveloping these properties.

Green Bay will get another EPA grant this year for $300,000 to help the 60 or so brownfield assessments on Broadway and Velp Avenues. The EPA isn’t only helping with brownfield sites, but also promising to clean up Superfund sites.

“It’s the first step prior to formally and officially developing a property to make sure it doesn’t have any environmental pollution in it, and if it does, how it can be cleaned up,” said Chairman of Green Bay’s Economic Development Authority Cary Sikich.

According to Vonck, “This provides some funding for us to hire an environmental consultant to go in and find out just what is there. It’s a really great way for us to start the ball rolling in some of these more difficult properties in terms of getting a better picture of how contaminated it is and what the burden is in terms of cleaning that up. Just so we know you know moving forward how much there is to do before we can start developing and generating a tax base.”