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Chemical spill in Washington Township apparently causes little lasting damage

| Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, 11:10 p.m.

Officials said a September chemical spill in Washington Township that initially clouded a Pine Run tributary did not cause any lasting environmental damage.

John Poister, a spokesman with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said inspectors with the department's Clean Water program have visited the site near Route 380 and North Washington Road at least twice since the initial spill response on Sept. 19.

“Both times, the creek was running clear; there appeared to be no ongoing issues,” Poister said. “There was no sign of permanent damage to the stream or the ecosystem.”

Scott Slagle, the township's police chief and emergency management coordinator, agreed there was no evidence of ongoing problems at the site.

The spill occurred when Modified Concrete Suppliers LLC, a company that mixes a latex additive with concrete for bridge-deck rehabilitation, dumped an estimated 800 gallons of wastewater that contained diluted styrene-butadiene polymer on its Route 380 property.

The wastewater leached under the highway and into a small stream on North Washington Road property owned by Composidie Inc., a tool-and-die manufacturer. From there, the contaminated water flowed into Pine Run.

The DEP said the chemical, called Styrofan, posed no threat to people and did not appear to kill any aquatic life.

Modified Concrete brought in Allegheny Township-based McCutcheon Enterprises Inc. to assist with cleaning up the spill. Poister said McCutcheon's dams remained in place for several weeks after the spill to ensure any lingering contaminants washed out by rainwater would not end up in Pine Run.

“We are in the process of reviewing and revising our company policy to incorporate a much more detailed prevention plan to ensure this type of incident never happens again,” said Brent Vautaw, Modified Concrete's Indianapolis-based president. “We recognize the need to update our company policy and we will do so through any avenues necessary to meet our obligations.”

Vautaw said the company continues to work with the DEP to meet the state's requirements.

“Our company policy is to manage and conduct business operations in a manner that provides maximum protection to the environment,” he said.

Poister said the DEP received Modified Concrete's final report on the spill and clean-up about a week ago but had not yet reviewed the material.

Once the review is complete, Poister said it is likely the company will face a civil penalty that hasn't yet been determined.

“Right now, I would expect that we would take action on a civil penalty within a couple of months,” Poister said.

Slagle said the township is not pursuing any criminal charges.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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