The U.S. government yesterday took the next step towards partly financing environmental cleanup projects in China. As U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor previously reported, the U.S. Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) last month issued a Scope of Work related to a series of groundwater remediation initiatives in China—projects for which that nation intend to infuse (USD) $5.5 billion of its own money through 2020 (Monitor, March 16).
Nonetheless, USTDA awarded a $44,000 contract to Ascendant Program Services, LLC, a Bethesda, Md.-based infrastructure consulting firm, to embark upon a "definitional mission," or DM, to China. (Contract award #USTDA-CO201261140).
Despite the seemingly inconsequential price tag of the DM, it is one of several potential exploratory missions for which USTDA might fund—standard steps that the agency typically takes, such as the crafting of next-step “feasibility studies”—before arranging much larger financing of the actual remediation projects.
Ascendant now will travel to Beijing and two other cities that the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection has identified as "priority locations for groundwater and soil remediation projects."
The contract is one of a trio that the company secured from USTDA since last year. The agency awarded Ascendant a $35,000 contract, for example, to perform a feasibility study of an emergency call center project for the Government of Ukraine.
Likewise, in 2011 it separately awarded it a $50,000 contract to carry out a definitional mission to Brazil, where it was to evaluate possible USTDA funding of airport modernization projects.
As a follow-up measure to that Ascendant mission, the agency last week agreed to give a $485,000 “technical assistance” grant to the Rio de Janeiro State Transport Secretariat toward such airport projects. The Secretariat will not use the money for actual modernization of transportation infrastructure; rather, the funds will help the Rio state authority to “update its statewide airport plan and develop a funding strategy to modernize and expand the state's airport and heliport networks,” USTDA announced.
There is an “urgent need” to fund the project, USTDA justified, as Brazil is experiencing “rapidly increasing air traffic” while also preparing for an influx of visitors due to the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games.