Former St. Marks Refinery Cleanup Project Begins
April 17, 2014
The City of St. Marks held a groundbreaking ceremony today to celebrate the start of cleanup, construction and redevelopment at the former St. Marks Refinery. The project is being funded in part by a Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund subgrant from the Tallahassee Brownfields Coalition.
The City of St. Marks acquired the property through bankruptcy proceedings in 2005. Since then, it has been aggressive in securing funds from various federal and state agencies to address the contamination. In 2009, the City of St. Marks received an Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment grant to determine the extent of contamination. This positioned them to receive an EPA cleanup grant in 2013. This funding, however, covers only part of the remediation activities, and the City of St. Marks was facing a future with a partially remediated site.
"The funding from the Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund subgrant will allow the City of St. Marks to make significant progress with the remediation and position the site for future redevelopment," former St. Marks Mayor Chuck Shields said. Mayor Shields was instrumental in securing funds for work at the site.
The project holds several benefits, both direct and indirect, for the region. The partnership will contribute to the resolution of a long-term environmental issue in an ecologically sensitive area of the St. Marks River Watershed. Additionally, there will be direct economic benefits to construction and design contractors located in Leon and Wakulla counties.
"The City of Tallahassee is dedicated to supporting economic development within our region," Tallahassee Mayor John Marks said. "The cleanup and redevelopment of the former St. Marks Refinery will lead to more opportunities for growth. Helping our neighboring community helps us all."
The two cities have a long history in the area. The City of Tallahassee is a long-time employer in St. Marks, operating the Sam O. Purdom Power Generating Plant since 1952. The generating plant property, which is adjacent to the former St. Marks Refinery, was impacted by petroleum contamination stemming from the operations at the refinery.
Upon completion of the cleanup and redevelopment activities, the site will be referred to as St. Marks Innovation Park. It will accommodate commercial or retail establishments and enhance economic development in the community. The project is expected to be completed in 2015.
A "brownfield" is defined as real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of contamination. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse brownfields.
Zoe Mansfield, City of St. Marks, 850-925-6224; Cynthia Barber, City of Tallahassee Environmental Policy and Energy Resources Department, 891-2476