The federal government has awarded $400,000 to pay for identifying contaminated sites in downtown Fort Dodge.
The award to the city government was announced Wednesday afternoon by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It consists of two grants: $200,000 to identify contamination by hazardous substances and $200,000 specifically for seeking out petroleum contamination.
The money comes from a fund intended to pay for cleaning up contaminated sites often called brownfields.
''This brownfield program creates the opportunity to take things that were old, clean them up and make them new again,'' Mayor Matt Bemrich said. ''That's kind of a model we're working on in Fort Dodge.''
The grant money could pay for up to 56 environmental site assessments, according to an announcement from the EPA.
''The project targets the downtown Fort Dodge area, which contains a high concentration of vacant properties,'' EPA officials wrote in the announcement.
During a visit to Washington, D.C., earlier this year, local officials asked for letters of support from U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley, a Republican, and Tom Harkin, a Democrat and U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, to accompany the grant application.
''I always think that the conversations we have in Washington always help us with grant applications,'' Bemrich said.
He thanked Grassley, Harkin and King for their assistance.
Fort Dodge has received federal brownfields grants in the past. The 2010 demolition of the former IBP plant on Avenue O was partially paid for with that type of funding, according to Bemrich.