(Video) Port Shorts: Environmental Justice

Cincinnati's strong manufacturing heritage helped build the Queen City we know today. Manufacturing in Cincinnati hit its peak in 1969, but today you can still see signs of this industrial prowess throughout the city and county. Many of these sites provide the backdrop for our city’s architectural character and robust engineering workforce, but other parts of this history, like the Lunkenheimer Valve Company, continue to pose challenges.

The Port views environmental stewardship, which includes remediation and site readiness, as among the most important services it provides to the region.

Since its founding, The Port has cleaned up over 250 acres and has impacted nearly 50 properties in Hamilton County through environmental cleanup and assessment.

While much of this work is focused on eliminating environmental threats, it is also a strategy to actively reduce exposure for vulnerable communities.

Environmental Justice is a movement focused on leveling the playing field that for too long has disproportionately impacted low-income neighborhoods.

That is why the Port integrates environmental justice into everyone of our projects, particularly the industrial projects where a lot of these brownfields sit. And we hope to integrate that… environmental justice and remediation… into the future development of these properties.” - Chris Meyer, Industrial Development Manager, The Port

A survey in one Cincinnati neighborhood along the Mill Creek Corridor found that 70 percent of residents live within a block of a brownfield site, which is a site that is likely contaminated, and asthma rates in these areas are four times the state average for children.

The Port recently launched a revolving loan program for site cleanup. Seeded by an $800,000 US EPA Brownfields Loan, the program will help communities close the financing gap that often serves as a barrier for cleanup.

Lunkenheimer Valve Company is an example of the potential and the challenge inherent in former manufacturing sites. While parts of South Fairmount are seeing new life the fate of the five-story, 112-year-old foundry remains in limbo.

“The Lunkenheimer site, which is behind us, was a large-scale cleanup. We had multiple contractors, removal of hazardous waste, air monitoring throughout the removal action. So that goes well in-hand with getting it cleaned up and the Port does a great job re-developing the site.” - Steve Renninger, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

We know the need is great; there are over 1,300 properties in the Mill Creek Valley alone identified as vacant industrial land. The Port is dedicated to continuing this environmental work to positively impact many of our most vulnerable neighbors.