Township will pay $21,000 for Brush Creek fish kill

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A price will be paid by Cranberry for a fish kill in August that was caused by a discharge of untreated sewage into Brush Creek.

Manager Jerry Andree confirmed that the township would pay $15,000 to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and $6,000 to the state Department of Environmental Protection. The $15,000 is not a civil penalty, but a settlement that was agreed to by the township, Public Works Director Duane McKee said. The $6,000 to the DEP is a fine.

"What it comes down to is that, whether we meant to or not, we violated the Clean Stream Act, so we received a fine from DEP. That's their rule. With the Fish and Boat Commission, they've acknowledged that we didn't do anything negligent, so they allowed us to pay a settlement instead of a civil penalty," Mr. McKee said.

Mr. Andree said he and township staff were "hugely disappointed" by the penalties, as well as the incident itself. "It's counterproductive to get into a big fight with anybody, but what happened was outside our control," he said.

A pumping problem at the sewage treatment plant on Powell Road Aug. 20 caused untreated sewage to flow into Brush Creek, killing an undetermined number of fish. Brush Creek is a tributary of Connoquenessing Creek, which flows into the Beaver River, then the Ohio River.

The problem wasn't discovered until the next morning, about 12 hours after things went awry at the plant.

While Brush Creek is not a source of drinking water, it is a fishing stream. Mr. McKee said it was not so significant of a stream, however, that it had to be restocked. "It's not considered to be a high quality fishery, so they let it re-establish on its own. Within a few days, the fish were migrating back into the area," he said.

The problem was that the plant lost power about 2 p.m. on a Sunday, which caused pumps at the 3-million-gallon-a-day plant to malfunction. Alarm systems that would have kicked into action with a power outage didn't respond because of a series of power fluctuations. Electrical surging equipment at the plant has since been updated so such a problem won't happen again.

Mr. Andree said the township had a good track record at its sewage treatment plant. The last time the township was in trouble with the state was for a fish kill that occurred during renovations in 1998.


Karen Kane can be reached at kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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