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DEC brownfields team honored

Posted: September 22, 2011 - 12:07am

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff members John Carnahan and Sonja Benson of the Fairbanks office plus former staffer Deborah Williams were awarded the 2011 National Notable Achievement Award for Outstanding Brownfields Teamwork. The award is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER).

The annual award acknowledges the team’s work in technical and other assistance in cleanup of brownfield sites, with particular attention to rural areas. Four members of EPA’s Region 10 office also received awards as part of Alaska’s brownfields team.

Brownfields are industrial or commercial sites that are abandoned or underused and where the presence or perceived presence of contamination inhibits desired redevelopment or reuse. Benson, a DEC program specialist, described them as the intersections between environmental and economic interests.

“Rural Alaska is a challenging place for brownfields work, but this work is important to individual communities seeking to redevelop or use these areas,” DEC Commissioner Larry Hartig said in a release. “I extend my congratulations and thanks to John, Sonja and Deb for all their hard work in making the brownfields program a success in Alaska.”

Benson said the award is tailored more toward work with Alaska’s tribal response programs even though DEC is a state response program.

Several of the tribal programs are in Southeast with three more starting with new grants on Oct. 1. These are the Douglas Indian Association, Hydaberg Cooperative Association and Craig Community Association.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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