The City of Fort Worth has been awarded a $1 million federal grant, which it will use to remove asbestos from the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The EPA announced on May 25 that 267 projects from 262 communities across the United States would receive a combined total of more than $215 million in federal taxpayer money from the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant Program. The EPA said in a press release that this is the “largest ever funding awarded in the history of the EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs.”
“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we’re moving further and faster than ever before to clean up contaminated sites, spur economic redevelopment, and deliver relief that so many communities have been waiting for,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a press release.
The Fort Worth Convention Center renovation is one of six Texas projects selected to receive federal funding out of 14 Texas projects that applied.
The city’s original request for funding explained that about 96,000 square feet of the building contain asbestos, which was commonly used in a variety of construction materials such as insulation, spray-on substances, and fireproofing when the building was first built in the 1960s.
The National Cancer Institute states that people are at risk of contracting serious health complications from inhaling asbestos, which is now classified as a cancer-causing substance, having been linked to mesothelioma as well as ovary, larynx, and lung cancer.
City officials said that it is “imperative” that measures be taken to protect citizens from the harmful effects of asbestos, given that the convention center hosts 60 to 70 events annually.
“Due to the age of the material, several small areas of the spray-on acoustic have been recently abated as it was delaminating from the surface. In addition, approximately 19,000 [square feet] of the spray-on fireproofing has been enclosed with plastic and sheetrock due to the condition and public access to the materials within the arena,” said officials in the request.
“Complicating matters further, much of the material is 20 to 50 feet off the floor, requiring a significant amount of scaffolding and effort to abate the materials,” they continued.
In addition to the removal of harmful materials, the convention center is also undergoing a $701 million expansion. Officials project that the expansion will boost city tourism and improve hotel occupancy tax numbers, according to KERA.
Mattie Parker, mayor of Fort Worth, commented on the importance of the grant.
“This grant award will directly contribute to the long-awaited expansion of the Fort Worth Convention Center, a project that will promote our community on a local, state, national and even global level and bring visitors and dollars into Fort Worth’s local businesses and vibrant tourism economy,” said Parker, according to the Fort Worth Report.