Pennsylvania Orders PPG to Treat Old Site Seepage

The Department of Environmental Protection issued an administrative order to PPG Industries, requiring it to collect and treat contaminated water discharging unabated from the site containing decades-old waste from its former Ford City plant, and to restrict access to the site and to the section of the Allegheny River impacted by the discharge, officials announced on March 9.

The site, located in Cadogan and North Buffalo townships, Armstrong County, was used from 1949 through 1970 as a disposal area for glass polishing waste slurry produced by its former Ford City facility. PPG created a 77-acre slurry lagoon area, 90 percent of which has a vegetated cover. In the 1920s, PPG established a solid waste disposal area on the site to dispose off-spec glass and other solid wastes until 1967.

DEP staff was contacted by Allegheny River Stewards to discuss the results of field testing it had conducted on the river, which indicated that the discharge from the site was raising the pH of the Allegheny River to unacceptably high levels.

Rain and snow melt filter through the soil and, after mixing with or running through the waste, become contaminated by pollutants including antimony, arsenic, and lead, and become highly alkaline. The polluted water then seeps out of the slurry lagoons, and possibly the landfill, at several locations. It then flows to or is conveyed untreated to the Allegheny River and Glade Run.

The order requires PPG within 30 days to begin monitoring the quality and quantity of the seepage and the receiving streams and to submit to DEP an interim abatement plan for review and approval. Within 90 days, PPG is required to submit to DEP for review and approval a plan to permanently collect, treat, and dispose of the wastewater, as well as a schedule for plan implementation. PPG also is required to provide to DEP written monthly reports documenting the measures taken in the previous month and those planned for the following month to address the site conditions.

Finally, the order requires PPG to submit a plan to DEP detailing how it will limit access to the site and to the effected areas of the Allegheny River and Glade Run. A pH level of 12 standard units has been detected. To provide perspective, bleach has a pH level of 12.5.

In 1972, PPG sold the site to Ford City for $1. A parcel of the site which is located north of the solid waste disposal area currently serves as a recreation area.

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