The Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) has long had a revolving loan fund to help finance brownfield clean up projects. However, the OWDA program has rarely been utilized because of two factors:
- Clean Ohio Program– Offers grants up to $3 million for clean up and remediation of sites (i.e. why take a loan when there is significant grant money available?)
- Non-competitive interest rates
At this week’s Ohio Brownfield Conference, the State announced that they soon would be revamping the OWDA program to make it more attractive. The two major changes to be made are:
- Responsible Parties- OWDA will allow companies that have legal responsibility for contamination to be eligible for loans so long as the company is not under enforcement orders. Responsible parties (PRPs) are not eligible for Clean Ohio or other federal grant funding.
- Competitive Interest Rates- The State did not announce the exact interest rate. They simply stated the the new rates would be competitive.
The biggest change is allowing responsible parties to be eligible for loans. Now companies have a new financing option if they want to address historical contamination on their property to eliminate liability risks. Companies can utilize the Ohio Voluntary Action Program (VAP) in performing their clean up.
Clean up under VAP is a far better option than clean up under traditional enforcement or regulatory programs like RCRA (hazardous waste regulatory program). VAP clean ups are:
- Cheaper- the program allows use of institutional (i.e. deed restrictions) and engineering controls (physical barriers) as an alternative to more costly removal/disposal of contamination
- Companies have much more flexibility in how to perform their clean up-
- Residential versus industrial/commercial standards can be selected
- Buildings and parking lots can be used to contain contamination versus digging and hauling material off-site
- Companies private environmental consultant oversees the clean up and selects remedies versus the regulator
The OWDA program may provided needed financing to companies wishing to take advantage of the VAP program.
We will need to see the details for the changes to the program once the State rolls them out. I was told that would occur in the next few weeks. However, these changes appear to make the OWDA Brownfield Loan Program much more attractive.
(See extended entry for the current program guidelines which will soon be changed)