NIEHS/EPA Brownfields Minority Worker Training Program
Worker Education and Training Program
As part of the Department of Health and Human Services commitment to the Brownfields National Partnership Agenda, the NIEHS has provided support for the establishment of the Brownfields Minority Worker Training Programs targeting the Showcase Communities and other Brownfields Demonstration Pilots across the U.S. The strategy of this initiative is to broaden the NIEHS Minority Worker Training Program (MWTP) to include a new component on Brownfields Worker Training, addressing the need for a more comprehensive training program to foster economic and environmental restoration of the identified brownfield sites.
Cleaning up the nation's hazardous waste sites is an enormous undertaking, requiring the efforts of millions of workers and hundreds of billions of dollars. Recently, though, there has been a new surge of cleanup activities, which are assumed to be less intensive. Brownfield sites involve more than just the cleanup of hazardous waste. They represent the coming together of many factors -- environmental, economic, community empowerment, and environmental justice among them. As defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Brownfield sites are "abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination." In June 1995, GAO estimated that there were between 130,000 and 450,000 Brownfield sites that will cost more than $650 billion to clean up. Others have estimated that there are currently 500,000 or more Brownfield sites across the United States and that the cost to clean up these sites is $600 billion. Additional information on the Brownfields Initiative can be found at http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/ (http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/) .
The need for specific health and safety training for the workers at the various sites across the U.S. that require remediation/cleanup are numerous. The scope of environmental and public health risks identified at Superfund and other hazardous waste sites ranges from contaminated soil and air to hazardous exposures through the food chain. Due to the different types of sites and the regulations that require cleanup of these sites, the degree of training for workers in these surrounding communities represent an economic as well as environmental challenge; therefore, focused workforce development initiatives are required. Information on Brownfields and environmental cleanup can be found in the following document NIEHS Brownfields Report: HazMat Cleanup, But More (http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/public/hasl_g et_blob.cfm?ID=1353) (3.21 MB) . The NIEHS Brownfields program has met this challenge and continues to broaden their reach to train underrepresented minorities in Brownfields communities.