State sues to recover cost of cleaning up Hempfield site
Three companies that stored materials at a Westmoreland County scrap processing site between 1940 and 1970 owe the state about $2.3 million for cleaning up hazardous materials that seeped into the ground, the Department of Environmental Protection says in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The substances found on the 16-acre Everglade Iron and Steel Company site in Hempfield included lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit seeks to recover cleanup costs from CBS Corp. of New York City, TDY Industries of Pittsburgh and Timken Co. of Canton, Ohio.
Spokesmen for Downtown-based Allegheny Technologies Inc., the parent company of TDY Industries, and Timken declined comment.
CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs said the company tried to reach a settlement with the DEP before the lawsuit was filed and still hopes to reach an agreement. CBS's involvement in the site is tied to the operations of Westinghouse Electric Corp., she said. Westinghouse bought CBS in 1995 and renamed itself as CBS Corp. in 1997 after selling many of its non-broadcast operations.
“CBS disputes, among other things, the materials that were alleged to have been sent to the site, the costs that DEP is seeking and the relative shares of the parties,” Jacobs said.
The owner of the site, Richard Liebman, paid $300,000 to settle the state's claims against him, said DEP spokesman John Poister. The $2.3 million the lawsuit seeks is separate from that settlement, he said.
Work on cleaning the site, which was contaminated by chemicals leaking from transformers, capacitors, batteries and other scrap, is ongoing.
“These were large industrial devices that generated a lot of heat,” Poister said. “The manufacturers used an oil/PCB mixture to cool the transformers and capacitors. The oil mixture was sealed inside the devices. Over time it would leak out and contaminate the soil.”
Investigators identified several PCB hotspots. The contaminated soil was dug up and properly disposed of, Poister said.
The DEP is continuing its investigation, which includes checking for groundwater contamination.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.