Hazard averted when gasoline from flooded Jefferson Hills plant leaks into creek
By Patrick Cloonan and Jennifer R. Vertullo
Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 4:26 a.m.
Emergency crews averted a potential hazard when Wednesday's flash flooding infiltrated a Jefferson Hills testing facility.
A hazardous materials crew and swiftwater team placed oil-absorbent booms in Peters Creek, where rising waters breached its banks and rushed into the Clark Testing building along Route 51.
It was one of numerous problems in Jefferson Hills that caused Mayor Michael Green to declare a state of emergency.
By late morning, several roads, homes and businesses had been flooded. By mid-afternoon it was reported that 700 West Penn Power customers had lost service.
“We have a full crew of public works staff and police staff working,” borough spokeswoman Jane Milner said. “The police chief (Gene Roach) is urging residents to travel on local roads only if absolutely necessary.”
Shortly before 3 p.m., Allegheny County officials said an undetermined number of 55-gallon drums of jet fuel and gasoline were floating toward the Monongahela River.
Those on the scene were saying it was not drums floating out, but substances that had leaked out of them and into Peters Creek.
Clark staff members, who asked not to be identified, said the facility's lower levels were filled with water when the creek overflowed into the parking lot as far as the main entrance.
According to an online profile, Clark has provided qualification testing and design verification for manufacturers for more than 50 years. It offers a comprehensive catalog of testing services, with some potentially hazardous materials on site.
Brian Chalfant, a firefighter with Jefferson Hills Fire Rescue, said several barrels containing a potentially hazardous substance toppled in the water and leaked.
“There is no immediate danger to the public or the environment, because everything is contained to the building at this time,” Chalfant said shortly after 3 p.m. “There is potential for exposure.”
Chalfant described the water inside the Clark facility as coated with a “sleek” substance.
He said the booms placed in the creek would absorb any of that substance before it made its way to the nearby Mon.
Peters Creek is a tributary of the Mon, flowing roughly three miles from the Clark facility before it reaches the river.
Weather-related problems forced the borough library to close at 4 p.m.
Events on Wednesday night were postponed, including a borough recreation program movie night.
Allegheny County officials said a dinner time storm caused a tree to fall into a utility pole along Bedell Road, not far from the Washington County line.
Falling trees brought down wires along Scotia Hollow Road near Route 51.
Another tree and accompanying debris blocked traffic at the juncture of Chamberlain and Gill Hall roads.
Patrick Cloonan and Jennifer R. Vertullo are staff writers for Trib Total Media. They can be reached at 412-664-9161, Cloonan at ext. 1967 or email@example.com, Vertullo at ext. 1956 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Elizabeth mayor tenders resignation
- Family, McKeesport community grieves for girl, 14, killed by truck
- McKeesport-area officials on lookout for landslides
- Army band Volunteers to rock Palisades stage
- Clairton Seuss Cafe just what doctor ordered for love of reading
- McKeesport mayor answers critics of emergency timing
- Elizabeth resident charged in fuel theft
- AIU forum bashes governor’s education budget
- McKeesport council OKs memorial ordinance
- Lincoln Way work finally set to begin