MU’s Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS) and the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall, a state-mandated program of CEGAS, have partnered with the Coalfield Development Corporation to provide an environmental workforce training program in southern West Virginia.
The US Department of Environmental Protection Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization is providing a total of $192,300 in federal funding for graduates to develop wider skill sets that improve their ability to secure full-time, sustainable employment in the environmental field, which includes chemical safety, water quality improvement, and various aspects of hazardous and solid waste management. This program will target unemployed and underemployed young adults, veterans and coal miners of Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mingo Counties.
The Reclaim Appalachia: Quality Environmental Jobs Initiative will include 218 hours of instruction in lead and asbestos abatement; 40-hour HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training); lead renovation, repair and painting; mold awareness, methamphetamine lab cleanup; chemical inventory, storage and handling; site surveying and blueprint reading; and several job readiness and life skills training courses. Participants will earn state or federal certifications and licenses, and advanced-level participants will obtain an Associate Degree from Mountwest Community and Technical College upon completion of the program.
Brandon Dennison, Coalfield Development Corporation’s Executive Director, said that “Environmentally impacted employment sectors are becoming crucial to a more diversified job readiness strategy for our state. This program will help to ensure that the communities within southern West Virginia’s coalfields reap the economic benefits derived from these remediation activities.”
“Our Brownfields Center here at Marshall was able to play a key role in putting this successful application together, and we believe these efforts will have a positive impact here in southern West Virginia,” said George Carico, Director of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall.
Key partners include the West Virginia Region 2 Workforce Investment Board, Wayne County Economic Development Authority, Southern West Virginia Community Action Council, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Veterans Employment Council, and several environmental and community-based organizations.