Pennsylvania Senator Katie Muth hosted a hearing last week, CLOSING THE HAZARDOUS WASTE LOOPHOLE IN PA, where we learned once again why citizens jokingly say the initials D.E.P. (short for Department of Environmental Protection) stand for “Don’t Expect Protection.”
If you can’t sit through the entire 4 hour, 44 minute hearing, definitely watch the second half (beginning around the 2:30:00 mark), and if you want the shortest, eye-opening version about your drinking and bath water drawn from the Monongahela River, definitely watch the Guy Kruppa segment beginning at the 4:06:40 mark.
“Committee, A brief description of my dealings regarding the toxic waste loophole.
In my experience, I was dealing with a local landfill that was excepting drill cuttings from gas well sites that was laced with radioactivity among other toxic constituents. When I became employed here at Belle Vernon, I noticed our bug population in our activated sludge wastewater plant was experiencing die off. We were getting toxic shock loads of wastewater from the landfill, which was discovered only after thousands of dollars spent by our authority to uncover. Our authority received ZERO assistance from the PA DEP, and as a matter of fact, I was told by the DEP that it was our problem to solve due to our authority possessing the permit to discharge rather than the landfill itself. After numerous months of testing by our certified lab, testing conducted by WVU, research conducted by Dr. John Stoltz of Duquesne University and collecting flow data, we finally retained an environmental attorney, Smith-Butz, Kendra and John Smith. By hiring these attorneys, we were able to get an injunction placed against the landfill forbidding them to discharge to us again.”
“The DEP did not want this to occur, even suggesting that our authority continue to accept this waste and any violations and fines our authority receive be paid by the landfill. This suggestion is on record in an email from the DEP, which I possess and shared with Special Agent Brian Kosoglow of the Environmental Crime dept. of the attorney general office, Josh Shapiro. Throughout these times of us knowingly polluting source water, I was reporting monthly our violations to the DEP. I essentially had to “self report” our insufficient performance of our wastewater plant.“
“When I brought these findings to the DEP reps, they told me the landfill is allowed to accept drill cuttings. The DEP told me the landfill was doing nothing wrong. He lies the “Loophole”. Since the landfill had no water discharge permit, they were allowed to send anything they wanted down the pipe to us, and the DEP would crack down on us, the authority, owners of the wastewater plant. The realization of how large this problem was came when I spoke to a landfill worker after our plant received such a large shock load of water, the neighboring fire hall that was serving fish, had to evacuate the building due to the strong odor of diesel fuel. I spoke with this gentleman immediately after the shock load was sent, he had tears in his eyes, thinking myself and another employee of mine were going to physically assault him for doing what he did on direct orders from the landfill ownership. He told me the landfill was accepting such large amounts of drill cuttings that if this was Ohio, they would be arrested. The trucks were delivering the cuttings, soaked in diesel fuel in the cloak of darkness, before the landfill was opened for the day, and on weekends when the landfill was closed. Additionally, I was told the trucks were bypassing the scales so the amount would not be on record.”
“He said the radiation was so great, it would be illegal to transport over public roads. This radiation was confirm through our lab results. This was a brief synopsis of what went on, I’m leaving out so much detail, that this email would be pages long. I will certainly expand during questioning.“
Guy C. Kruppa Belle Vernon Municipal Authority- Superintendent
10 Main St. Belle Vernon Pa, 15012
This was a new twist on toxic water entering the Mon River through sewage treatment plants. Back around 2008-2009, the McKeesport sewage plant was happy to get 5-cents a gallon to accept liquid drilling waste. Those liquids were killing ‘the bugs’ essential for sewage treatment, and overall, these facilities were not designed to handle this sort of industrial waste. (80,000 gallons would be approximately 20 of these tanker truckloads per day).
Our water authority began to have trouble chlorinating the ‘chunky’ river water for public consumption, since trihalomethanes were exceeding maximum limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They eventually had to switch from using chlorine to chloramine, in order to get the trihalomethanes (one of them is chloroform) within acceptable limits. One of the greatest risks of using tap water high in trihalomethanes is inhalation, while taking a hot shower.
Panel 1: Experts
Panel 2: Administration
Panel 3: Investigative reporters
Panel 4: Community Voices
Previous Testimony (A People’s Budget: The Environment (2/25/21)