Maine DEP Commissioner Melanie Lozim, left, City of Bath Economic and Community Development Director Emily Ruger, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator David Cash. Gabrielle Mannino photo

Bath has received a $500,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant to help it prepare plans to clean up several historic parts of the city.

The award, a Brownfield Assessment Grant, is part of a $13.8 million infrastructure effort to allow communities to test, clean and redeveloping potentially hazardous sites.

Bath plans to use the money to plan potential contamination testing and cleanups and conduct community outreach at various sites in the city’s downtown, South End and waterfront areas, including the former Texas Steamship Shipyard, which opened during a four-year span during World War I to build “emergency” steel cargo ships during the war.

Bath economic and Community Development Director Emily Ruger said the city will spend the next three to four years choosing, assessing, and testing eight to 15 different sites for potentially hazardous substances like asbestos. While Ruger said city officials haven’t locked down the specific locations, they know the waterfront and downtown will take top priority.

“Because of the new river walk installed, revitalizing that area is exciting to think about,” said Ruger. “A lot of the downtown properties have shifted ownership and we will have that in mind as we think about going through some redevelopment efforts,” she added.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree was joined by Environmental Protection Agency administrators and town officials in Portland this week to celebrate and award checks to the selected Brownfield cities.

“Hazardous sites not only pose a health danger to Mainers — especially as extreme weather becomes more common — but they also limit important economic activity in our communities,” said Rep. Pingree in a news release.

Supporting underserved and economically disadvantaged communities, the EPA has awarded grants totaling $147.5 million to 227 communities nationwide.

Nine cities in Maine received brownfield grants as part of this latest slate of funding, according to the release.

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