The Center for Hazardous Substance Research at Kansas State University is receiving a $5 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for continued work on mitigating environmental hazards in the central U.S.

K-State is one of six organizations nationwide to receive a total of $11 million from the EPA to provide training and technical help to communities under the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program. This program works with various community partners and other nonprofit organizations to help mitigate what’s known as brownfield sites. These are properties where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance or pollutant.

The brownfields program through the EPA assists states, tribal communities and municipalities in cleaning up or sustainably reusing these properties. Members of the K-State program will help people living in the central portion of the U.S. as far east as Ohio and as far west as Utah with brownfield training and research.

In a statement, KSU TAB program director Blase Leven said he is “privileged and honored” to be selected to serve these regions.

“This area is like none other, and we look forward to making new friends and working with old ones to bring brownfield revitalization dreams to life,” Leven said.

Barry Breen, acting assistant director for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, said the primary goal of the brownfields technical assistance program is to help communities transform environmental liabilities into local assets at no cost to the community.

The Center for Hazardous Substance Research, part of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering, performs research and educational services related to environmental topics. Researchers in the center aim to better understand the health impacts of brownfield sites, along with potential financial impacts of redeveloping those sites.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Bureau of Environmental Remediation website, there are 48 brownfield sites in Riley County, the majority of which are located on Fort Riley and are resolved. In Manhattan, some listed active brownfield locations include Cinderella Cleaners at 1227 Bluemont Avenue and the Riley County Shop at 2711 Anderson Avenue. These sites would qualify for assistance under the new EPA grant.