$300K grant to help Norfolk research areas of land along Elizabeth River

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk City Council is voting to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The $300,000 grant will allow the city to research Brownfields along the Elizabeth River.

Brownfields are areas of land that once housed industries that may have potentially left hazardous substances or pollutants.

The city says the money will allow them to asses these areas.

“The Elizabeth River Project is the lifeblood of not only Hampton Roads but Virginia,” said Joe Rieger,who is the deputy director of restoration for the Elizabeth River Project.

Related: Norfolk to announce federal funding for Waterfront improvements

Rieger says the organization it’s been their goal to clean the river for more than two decades and have worked with many businesses, home owners, and local governments to accomplish this.

“That’s why the money is tremendous, that they can lead the effort to evaluate if there is contamination and how they could potentially address this,” Rieger said.

Rieger said the city has had numerous industries along the Elizabeth River for hundreds of years, and those possible pollutants could still affect areas today due to flooding.

“During the flooding events, the toxins can make it into the water which will ultimately lead it to the river,” he said.

Areas that would be targeted include Harbor Park, St. Paul’s Quadrant, Fort Norfolk and the South Elizabeth Waterfront.

According to the city’s request for the grant, these areas were picked because they play a vital role in the growth of the city and because they’re threatened by rising sea levels.

But, it’s not just about pollution going into the river. The grant request also includes plans to revitalize these areas for economic growth.

The request says that if there are not any plans to continue to make Norfolk and those areas resilient, the city risks losing hundreds of thousands of jobs and $87 billion by 2050.

For more information on the grant, visit this link.