Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

November 13, 2013

Gas drillers point to safety of barges

Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 2, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Barges have a safety record that environmentalists and gas drillers can both point to as supporting their opposing views about a Coast Guard proposal to allow fracking waste to be shipped along the nation’s rivers to disposal sites.

They average seven large spills a year on waterways that are a source of drinking water for some communities, an argument for environmentalists. For supporters of the plan, that number is an improving record that is better than the trucking industry’s although it lags behind railroads.

A Port of Pittsburgh Commission breakdown shows chemicals moved by barge locally include gasoline, kerosene, solvents, fertilizers, benzene, toluene and ammonia. But that doesn’t mean that fracking waste, which may contain toxic chemicals and radioactive material, is an easy addition.

“Nobody has figured out what the safe thing is to do if fracking water gets in our drinking water. So yes, I have concerns about shipping it by river,” said Tom Hoffman, Western Pennsylvania director of Clean Water Action.

Fracking fluid is about 99.5 percent water and sand, but the remaining 0.5 percent contains additives that vary from company to company, said Patrick Creighton, spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a drilling trade group.

Peter Stephaich, chairman and CEO of Washington County-based Campbell Transportation Co., which operates about 40 tows and 500 barges, said tank barges used today are double-hulled, meaning liquid chemicals are separated from the rivers by two layers of steel.…

October 31, 2013

State sues to recover cost of cleaning up Hempfield site

Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 30, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

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.…

March 14, 2013

Engineers' building code standards target Legionella bacteria

Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 9, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

An engineering group that influences building codes nationwide is drafting tough new standards to prevent Legionella, the waterborne bacteria blamed in a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Pittsburgh.

Federal estimates show Legionnaires’, a form of pneumonia, kills more than 4,000 people and sickens about 21,000 others each year, three decades after researchers figured out how to control the bacteria in tap water.

The proposed standards would require building operators to verify they are monitoring the Legionella threat in commercial, residential and medical facilities with established risk factors, such as multiple whirlpools and spas. It also outlines methods to prevent the growth of the bacteria.

The cost of implementing these standards is unknown. Single-family homes would not be included in the proposed changes.

“It’s not the science or the engineering lacking here. It’s the lack of a management system that can be applied in a practical and defensible way,” said William McCoy, Standards Committee chairman at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers in Atlanta.

McCoy’s international committee, part of the 55,000-member engineering society, worked for the past six years to craft the first unified and enforceable domestic rules for Legionella control in the plumbing of large buildings, where the bacteria can fester and grow. The proposed plan could be voted on by the society’s board this year.…

December 10, 2012

Botched project’s cost likely to climb

Source: Tribune-Review, November 25, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Hempfield taxpayers shelled out more than $32,000 to dredge a creek running through a township park that damaged nearby wetlands, according to a review of bills and work orders obtained under the state’s Right-to-Know Act.

Taxpayers can expect the costs to keep climbing because remediation work on the wetlands hasn’t started, said a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection in Pittsburgh.

“They haven’t done any serious work yet,” John Poister said. “There’s quite a bit more.”

Township Supervisor Jerry Fagert oversaw the work as part of his plan to create a pond similar to one at a Penn Township park.

Penn Township officials followed environmental guidelines when its pond was installed, said township attorney Les Mlakar, who also represents Hempfield.

The money in Hempfield was spent on engineering fees and materials, the invoices show. After the damage was discovered, the state ordered a halt to the work.

Neither Fagert nor board President Doug Weimer responded to requests for comment.

Poister said Hempfield will be required to sign a consent order that will commit the township to restoring the wetlands, which are home to a variety of plant species and wildlife, according to an engineering report. Both sides have exchanged recommendations on how the damage can be repaired.

“There’s always a lot of back-and-forth on these things,” Poister said.…

May 23, 2011

Private firms poised to treat wastewater

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review , May 19, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Companies whose specialty is treating wastewater are hoping for a surge of business after today’s deadline for natural gas drillers to voluntarily stop sending their toxic flowback from hydraulic fracturing to publicly owned treatment plants.

“It’s a game changer. My phone is ringing off the hook,” said David Grottenthaler, general manager of Kroff Well Services Inc. on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

“The diluters and the dumpers (of drilling wastewater) are done,” Grottenthaler said, referring to an earlier practice of relying on streams and rivers to dilute metals and salts in drilling wastewater that flows back to the surface after fracturing Marcellus shale that holds natural gas deep underground.

Kroff Well Services and Reserved Environmental Services LLC in Hempfield in Westmoreland County are among at least five private companies in the region offering alternatives to treating millions of gallons of wastewater at publicly owned treatment plants. Aquatech International Corp. in Cecil; Comtech Industries Inc. in South Franklin in Washington County; and Siemens Water Technologies in Marshall also are players in yet another line of business that is benefiting from Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom.…

March 17, 2011

Petersen architects owe Pitt $5.9 million

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2011
By: Chris Ramirez

Two architecture firms must pay $5.9 million to the University of Pittsburgh for problems stemming from bad heating and air conditioning work in the Petersen Events Center, an Allegheny County judge ruled.

Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James ruled last month after a nonjury trial that Apostolou Associates/Rosser International Inc. breached its contract with the school and failed to perform its work “with due care and in a manner that met the applicable standard of care” during the arena’s construction, court documents say.

Apostolou Associates/Rosser International is the name of a joint venture of Apostolou Associates, in Mt. Washington, and Atlanta-based Rosser International Inc. They worked together to install the on-campus arena’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, and are asking for a new trial.…

March 7, 2011

BRIEF: Eight more defendants in Superfund suit pay to settle claims

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA), March 1, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Eight more defendants in a federal lawsuit over a Western Pennsylvania Superfund site have agreed to pay about $1.4 million to settle the government’s claims against them, according to a proposed consent order the Environmental Protection Agency filed yesterday.

The 1997 lawsuit involves the Breslube-Penn Inc. oil recycling center in Moon that was abandoned in 1986. In 2009, 36 of the defendants agreed to pay $12 million to clean up soil and groundwater contamination and another $3 million to reimburse the EPA and state for money the government had spent on the site.

The new agreement settles the lawsuit against eight other defendants, who agree to pay $607,744 to the government and $790,668 to a cleanup trust fund set up by the other defendants.…