DEP Acts to Clean Up Contaminated Sludge at Indiana Co. Coal Refuse Disposal Site

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is taking action to protect nearby residents and the water quality of a recovering river by removing untreated water and Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) from a water pond on the site of the former Tunnelton Liquids Company (TLC) in Conemaugh Township, Indiana County.

TLC specialized in treating leachate from a nearby coal refuse disposal site and wastewater from oil and gas drilling activities.

After TLC stopped operations in April of 2014, DEP became concerned that the untreated water and sludge that TLC failed to remove had accumulated in from the pond could overflow into the Conemaugh River.  The river, which flows adjacent to the TLC property, has shown signs of improvement in recent years thanks to work by DEP to treat sources of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD).

Approximately 12,000 cubic yards of sludge will be removed, solidified and then placed in lined roll-off boxes and properly transported to disposal sites in Pennsylvania.  The sludge was a byproduct of processing, by the company, of fluids generated by oil and gas drillers as well as AMD from the Tunnelton Mine.

After all water and sludge is removed from the pond the underlying soil will be sampled to verify that to the appropriate state cleanup standards have been met.

In July of 2014, DEP initiated a prompt interim response under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) at the TLC site which involved procedures designed to prevent any uncontrolled releases from the pond as well as sampling water and sludge in the pond.

After analyzing the samples, DEP contracted with URS Corp. to design and implement the project. Work on the $ 2.4 million cleanup is expected to begin later this spring.

For more information on The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act visit www.dep.state.pa.us.

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