WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Millions of dollars in federal funding have been awarded to communities across Connecticut to clean up and assess polluted areas as part of the brownfields program. State and local leaders gathered Monday in Waterbury at the site of a former button factory to announce the funding.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected six communities in Connecticut to receive a combined $8.8 million to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites. These are properties where the redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances.

“To lift up communities, to make our air clean, make our water clean, and to provide the economic development catalyst that’s so important in these kinds of cities and towns all over the country,” EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash said.

The city of Waterbury is among the recipients of this funding. As a native of the community, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes said this is about kids having safe places.

“There used to be a sign on the fence about a block back that warned kids not to play in that area because of the soil, not to walk on this grass over here, and that is debilitating,” Hayes said.

Other communities receiving funding include New London and Bridgeport.

The EPA’s brownfields program will advance the Biden Administration’s Justice40 initiative, which directs 40% of federal investments to disadvantaged communities.