State says printer's ink colored Connellsville creek
A trail of blue ink along a Fayette County highway helped investigators determine that potentially toxic printer's ink — not concrete dye — turned a Fayette County creek blue in November.
The unnatural blue color was clearly visible for several hours on Nov. 7 in Connellsville-Breakneck Run, which runs along Buttermore Boulevard in Connellsville Township, near Meidel's Restaurant and Grasso's Greenhouse.
Investigators initially traced the source to a house on Breakneck Road in the township, where they at first determined that blue concrete dye from a home-improvement project made its way into the creek.
After fielding phone calls from witnesses who reported seeing a trail of blue ink on Route 119, investigators with the state Department of Environmental Protection identified the source as improperly disposed printer's ink from an envelope-manufacturing facility, said John Poister, DEP spokesman.
“We saw traces of it on the highway from the plant to the concrete place, then from the concrete place to the property,” Poister said.
Poister said the ink trail stretched from National Envelope in Upper Tyrone to the residence of Rodney Allen in Connellsville Township. National Envelope had contracted with Allen to dispose of their excess ink, Poister said, but Allen did not do so in accordance with DEP regulations.
“He collected the ink in a large plastic vat mounted on the back of a truck, and his idea was to encase the ink in concrete and bury it, which is not a method approved by DEP,” Poister said. “As he drove the truck to the concrete plant, he left a trail of blue ink on the highway. They poured the concrete into the vat, displacing the ink, and it leaked out of the truck.”
Poister said investigators followed the ink trail from the concrete plant to Allen's property. There, they learned that “as he offloaded the concrete and ink mixture, more of it sloshed into the creek,” he said.
Contacted Monday by phone, Allen denied knowledge of the incident.
“I don't know nothing about it,” Allen said. “All we did with that corporation was take their waste paper.”
Poister said some types of printer's ink contain lead and other toxic substances, but it's not yet known if the ink that went into the creek caused any environmental damage. No fish kills were reported, but investigators are continuing to monitor the creek, he said.
National Envelope will be issued a notice of violation for failure to properly dispose of a potentially toxic substance, Poister said. It has not yet been determined whether any fines will be imposed.
“Our primary goal here is to ensure that from here on, National Envelope hires contractors who will properly dispose of the ink or any other by-products they have,” Poister said.
Poister said approved methods for disposal of printer's ink are recycling, burning in an environmentally safe incinerator, and burial in an approved landfill after the ink has been dried.
“You can't just pour it down the sewer. You can't just put it in a plastic bag for your municipal waste hauler,” Poister said. “It has to be done properly.”
No one from National Envelope returned a phone call seeking comment.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Penguins notebook: Crosby sits, could be out ‘couple days’
- Gas industry remedies ‘brain drain’ in Western Pennsylvania
- SWAT team responds to incident in Edgeworth
- Inside the glass: Sutter takes puck to face
- Lending challenges, rehab costs thwart efforts to revitalize
- Pitt blows 10-point lead as Iowa rallies for win
- Sunday’s scouting report: Brewers at Pirates
- Every room should participate in selling home, experts say
- Outdoor notices: Sept., 21, 2014
- Ben & Jerry’s inspires brownie flavors
- Technical difficulties: Living with the angst of a digital diet