December 4, 2013

Waste fines issued

Source: The Dominion Post (WV), November 24, 2013
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The State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a consent order about violations concerning water pollution and waste disposal by Clarksburg-based Central Supply Co. (CSC), including several at its Monongalia County locations.

The Mon County Notices of Violation (NOVs) were issued following inspections at its Morgantown Industrial Park (MIP) facility May 22, 2012, and Feb. 12 of this year; at its Hornbeck Road facility Dec. 7, 2012, and Feb. 12 of this year; and at a fill site on Goshen Road Nov. 28, 2012.

DEP spokesman Tom Aluise explained how a consent order works. NOVs may be issued following an inspection, and may carry fines. In some cases, violations are severe enough to lead to an administrative consent order, which includes the violations, findings of fact, a compliance order and penalty assessment.

The DEP then meets with the company, he said, to discuss the order and negotiate the fine and other changes. The company can then agree to the proposed settlement and sign it, or be subject to a DEP lawsuit. Most sign the order, he said, to stay out of court. The order becomes final after a 30-day comment period.

Under the order, CSC agrees to take all recommended corrective actions. “However, CSC does not admit to any factual and legal determinations made by the [DEP] and reserves all rights and defenses available” in any other proceedings.

The order was issued Nov. 6 and CSC President Dwayne McCartney signed it Nov. 8.

At the MIP site, on May 22, the order says, CSC disposed of material removed during the treatment of control of waste without DEP approval. It also allowed a discharge from its washout pits to flow into the MIP stormwater system, which flows into the Monongahela River.…

November 22, 2013

Roxbury landfill owners ordered to pay state

Source: Star-Ledger (NJ), November 16, 2013
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A Superior Court judge has ruled that the owners of the Fenimore Landfill in Roxbury are responsible for all “recoverable costs” associated with the closure of the facility.

The order by Judge Thomas Manahan, written Thursday and released yesterday in Morristown, finds that the landfill owner, Strategic Environmental Partners, violated terms of the consent order that allowed the landfill to reopen.

But the judge’s ruling does not specify an amount. It says a hearing must be scheduled within 45 days to determine the costs Strategic would pay to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP seized the landfill in June after thousands of complaints about rotten-egg-like, hydrogen sulfide odors and associated health problems. The agency is expected to submit a figure that would reimburse the state for the cleanup and closure costs.

But in a hearing yesterday, Manahan held out hope the DEP and Strategic can make “some attempt at resolution.” The agency and company are battling each other in state and federal courts in a total of eight civil cases in which the issues frequently overlap.

Strategic “may be somewhat under the gun financially,” the judge said, adding that the “multi-million-dollar expenses” needed for the cleanup and closure might be paid more easily if there were a settlement of the litigation.

Manahan’s ruling also terminated the consent order that permitted the landfill’s reopening in 2011 with plans to cap it with additional debris, close it and build a solar facility there. The landfill had been closed since 1977.…

October 31, 2013

State sues to recover cost of cleaning up Hempfield site

Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 30, 2013
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Three companies that stored materials at a Westmoreland County scrap processing site between 1940 and 1970 owe the state about $2.3 million for cleaning up hazardous materials that seeped into the ground, the Department of Environmental Protection says in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The substances found on the 16-acre Everglade Iron and Steel Company site in Hempfield included lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks to recover cleanup costs from CBS Corp. of New York City, TDY Industries of Pittsburgh and Timken Co. of Canton, Ohio.

Spokesmen for Downtown-based Allegheny Technologies Inc., the parent company of TDY Industries, and Timken declined comment.

CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs said the company tried to reach a settlement with the DEP before the lawsuit was filed and still hopes to reach an agreement. CBS’s involvement in the site is tied to the operations of Westinghouse Electric Corp., she said. Westinghouse bought CBS in 1995 and renamed itself as CBS Corp. in 1997 after selling many of its non-broadcast operations.…

October 28, 2013

State: We'll 'virtually eliminate' smells at Roxbury landfill

Source:, October 24, 2013
By: Louis C. Hochman

State officials say they expect to be able to “virtually eliminate” the foul odors that reach for miles beyond the Fenimore landfill site eventually — but they haven’t yet finalized a plan to do so.

In a fact sheet the state Department of Environmental Protection provided to Roxbury officials this week, the agency said its current short-term work at the landfill site should “significantly reduce” odors from hydrogen sulfide, the compound blamed for a rotten egg-like stench that many residents say have been making people stick for the last year.

The DEP has contracted with an engineering firm to come up with a long-term solution for the site, which will be reviewed with Roxbury officials before being finalized, it said.

But it once again rejected an idea pushed by Roxbury officials and local activists — to excavate and truck out construction debris brought to the site over the last year, the source of the hydrogen sulfide.

Digging up the site could release so much gas at uncontrolled rates residents could have to be removed from homes and schools, the DEP said.

The Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition, formed to address issues around the landfill, has rejected that assertion, saying the material could be removed carefully, in stages. And township officials have urged the DEP to use federal funds intended for Sandy relief to pay the estimated $53 million cost of removing the material, as much of the construction debris came from buildings damaged by the storm.…

September 20, 2013

State to undertake $500,000 cleanup of Pottstown Plating

Source:, September 18, 2013
By: Evan Brandt

The state is stepping in to make sure a half-million-dollar environmental cleanup at a closed plating facility in the borough gets completed after the bankrupt owner stopped work.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Wednesday it would take over the removal of hazardous materials left over at the former Pottstown Plating on South Washington Street at the intersection with Industrial Highway.

The company, which performed electroplating, opened in 1950 and closed in 2009 just before going bankrupt, according to the DEP.

When the DEP inspected the site in 2009, it found a number of environmental issues that needed to be addressed and the company’s owners hied a contractor to removed hazardous waste there.

However, work stopped in 2010 “due to lack of funding,” and when the DEP issued an order for the clean-up to continue in October 2011, no further action was taken, according to the DEP release.

DEP spokesperson Lynda Rebarchak said the estimated cost for the cleanup is $553,851.

“Since this does not include off-site lab analysis costs, or extra funds for unexpected expenses, the final cost is likely to be higher,” she wrote in an email to The Mercury.

So far, there is no evidence there have been any releases into the environment.…

August 9, 2013

Groups Score Victory in Fracking Wastewater Fight

Source:, August 7, 2013

If not for the effort of Clean Water Action and Earthjustice, a wastewater treatment plant in southwestern Pennsylvania might have spent each day of the past three years dumping up to 500,000 gallons of untreated natural gas drilling wastewater into the Monongahela River.

Instead, the plant has not discharged a drop of waste into the Monongahela River, a drinking water source for 350,000 people. And under a new permit issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the plant will not be allowed to discharge anything, unless it proves it can comply with the law and treat all of the contaminants in fracking wastewater.

The DEP had initially tried to fast-track the planned wastewater plant in Masontown, PA, quietly allowing Shallenberger Construction Inc. to dump inadequately treated fracking wastewater directly into the Monongahela River until the company built all of the necessary treatment facilities at the plant.

“When fracking began in western Pennsylvania, the gas industry treated our rivers as a convenient place to dispose of their waste,” stated Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action. “We knew we had to act and we are glad to see that this agreement upholds the protection for our drinking water that every Pennsylvanian expects and deserves.”

In 2008, pollution levels spiked so high in a 70-mile stretch of the Monongahela River that the entire city of Pittsburgh was urged to drink bottled water. The DEP acknowledged that the problem was due in large part to untreated fracking wastewater being discharged from sewage treatment plants. The Shallenberger plant would have added to the contamination

May 1, 2013

Franklin Forks Residents Concerned About Methane In Water Wells

Source:, April 30, 2013

A response wasn’t long in coming, following the latest bit of news on a very controversial subject. Just one day after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said methane found in private water wells in Franklin Forks Township was naturally occuring and not the result of natural gas development, one of the homeowners whose well was tested still has questions.

Tammy Manning said she’d like to see the tests themselves that the DEP conducted and not just the results.

She says the agency isn’t making those tests available.

“Very vague. I think they’re not giving us the full information. I asked them for the test results and how they determine that and they won’t give it to me,” said Tammy Manning. Franklin Forks Township resident.

A spokesperson for the DEP says while the tests aren’t available to the public, a homeowner would likely have a chance to see them. A spokesperson for Energy-In-Depth, an industry-funded group, says the DEP investigation closes the door on the idea the methane migration in Franklin Forks was due to gas drilling.

Manning says she might have her water tested privately.


March 7, 2013

N.J. DEP: New privatized toxic-site-cleanup program clears cases faster

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 2013
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For almost 50 years, trucks drove in and out of Monmouth Petroleum in North Jersey, filling up with heating oil for home delivery. But leaks and abandoned storage tanks left the site contaminated, another spoiled property in a state filled with shuttered industrial sites.

Now, a developer is building an apartment complex on the Manalapan Township site — a plan that New Jersey environmental officials say might have taken years longer, or never happened, if not for the state’s new privatized cleanup program.

“The numbers are increasing, and, anecdotally, what we’re seeing is the simpler cases are moving much faster,” said Ken Kloo, director of remediation management for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “It’s freed us up for the higher-priority cases, those where . . . potential human exposure is our highest priority.”

Since the state began in 2009 handing off day-to-day control of environmental cleanup to the private sector, the monthly rate of completed cases has risen almost 30 percent compared to the two years before the program began, according to data provided by the DEP.

But as the process accelerates, environmentalists worry that without direct state oversight, lands on which people could one day live and play are not being cleaned up to state standards and could present a public health risk.

Bill Wolfe, a former DEP official and frequent critic of the agency, said allowing environmental-cleanup firms, which are often paid by the polluters, to police themselves would inevitably lead to shortcuts.…

March 6, 2013

Toxic site in Burlco remains troubling

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, March 3, 2013
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On a recent afternoon last month, a man and his dog jogged down a peaceful, winding lane in Moorestown past a row of tidy $725,000 homes that exhibited tiered fountains and stone goddesses.

Not on display in the Wexford development were about 58 monitoring wells that lie about 25 feet beneath the ground in the area, installed after hazardous, carcinogenic solvents were spilled at the nearby defense plant.

“We’re watching it,” said Larry Hajna, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, referring to tainted groundwater the agency says was caused by Lockheed Martin’s predecessor, RCA Corp., nearly three decades ago.

While some tests show improvement, the monitoring area off Borton Landing Road has widened. Hazardous vapors were detected between 2008 and 2011 in air pockets of the soil near and beneath the basements of a nearby day-care center and 17 homes in the 60-house Wexford community.

Continued testing inside the buildings, however, has yielded conflicting results. Dangerous vapors were not detected in the day care but were found in a few homes, according to reports filed by Lockheed Martin’s state-licensed environmental consultant.

Two Wexford couples have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Lockheed Martin, alleging that the vapors have slowed the growth rates of their children.

The case, filed in 2011 by former next-door neighbors Michael and Ashley Leese, who have three children, and Jay and Raquel Winkler, who have two children, is approaching trial in U.S. District Court in Camden. The Leeses moved out last year but have not yet put their house up for sale.…

January 23, 2013

Proposed changes to Spill Act raise stink

Source:, January 21, 2013
By: Jared Kaltwasser

Don’t exempt public entities, opponents say

A years-old legal fight over pollution in the lower Passaic River could lead to significant changes in the way the state enforces its 30-year-old Spill Compensation and Control Act.

At issue is whether publicly owned sewer systems, wastewater treatment plants and municipalities are liable for cleanup costs associated with pollution collected or expelled from their systems.

Over the past few months, two bills aimed at limiting public entities’ Spill Act liability were introduced in the state Legislature. The first, sponsored by Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Chair L. Grace Spencer (D-Newark), cleared Spencer’s committee last week. Spencer’s bill would amend the Spill Act’s definition of hazardous waste so as not to include domestic, commercial or industrial sewage, sludge or wastewater collected or expelled from sewer systems and public wastewater treatment plants.

Another bill, proposed in the state Senate by Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) would simply exempt county and municipal agencies from liability for Spill Act cleanup costs.

Christopher Hartwyk, an attorney pushing for passage of Spencer’s bill, said the original intent of the Spill Act was always to exempt publicly owned treatment works, or POTWs, from paying cleanup costs. But he said the Department of Environmental Protection has misinterpreted the bill.

“The problem is the DEP in a previous case narrowly construed the exemption and this legislation is an attempt to correct that,” he said.