Progress: Cleanup plan forming for Moon's Breslube-Penn SuperFund site

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Talks are continuing, but no start date has been set to begin cleanup at the Breslube-Penn Superfund site in Moon. "We are making progress in negotiations," Larry Johnson, a spokesman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said recently. "We have an obligation and we will honor it."

Mr. Johnson is the EPA's Region Three community involvement coordinator for the Breslube-Penn project. The Justice Department and the EPA announced almost four years ago that a deal had been struck with 36 companies linked to contamination at the Breslube-Penn site. The settlement, filed with the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, included $12 million for future cleanup costs, a $3 million reimbursement to the EPA for its past expenses and $41,000 to the state for its enforcement and response costs. The government previously had reached $4.2 million in settlements with other companies.

While talks continue on the remediation plan, steps have been taken to assure that soil and water contaminated by decades of industrial processes remain contained on the 7-acre site, Mr. Johnson said. The Breslube-Penn property adjoins the Montour Trail and is within 50 feet of Montour Run, a tributary of the Ohio River that is popular with anglers. New signs have been posted on the fence around the property, identifying it as a federal cleanup site and warning off trespassers.

When the property was the site of a fat-rendering plant and later used for fuel oil recycling, its closest neighbors included the Montour Railroad yard. That "brownfield" site also is being cleaned up as the area is redeveloped as a place for sports and recreation uses. EPA and state officials have been keeping municipal officials in Moon up-to-date on project talks, township manager Jeanne Creese said. She has heard no complaints from residents or trail users about the pace of the work.

While the vast majority of the cleanup work will take place behind the Breslube-Penn fence, the project will require periodic closings of portions of the Montour Trail.

Soil under the trail contaminated with petroleum products will have to be cleaned is cleaned or hauled away, Gilbert McGurl said. He is the engineering and construction co-chair on the Montour Trail Council's board.

"There is a fairly complete plan for remediation of the site ... and money to do the job in place," Mr. McGurl said. "This project certainly needs to be done for the long-term protection of the environment."

The Montour Trail Council is the nonprofit organization that maintains a large portion of the popular hiking and biking trail.

Congress created the Superfund program in 1980 in response to the Love Canal chemical-storage scandal in New York. The law charged the EPA with identifying those responsible for industrial pollution sites and reaching agreements with them to correct problems. The EPA then oversees the remediation.

The Breslube-Penn settlement said that the rendering plant and oil recycling operations had contaminated soil and groundwater with a variety of chemicals and other pollutants. They include volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, metals and cyanide.

environment - neigh_west

Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 724-772-0184.


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