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DEP unsatisfied with cleanup at former Jeannette Glass plant

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said minimal cleanup work has been accomplished during the past year to remove hazardous materials from the former Jeannette Glass site, so the agency is considering stronger measures to force New York-based Zion Bullitt Ave. Ltd. to comply.

“There has been some work done on the site, but not nearly enough to satisfy the DEP,” spokesman John Poister said. “We are very, very frustrated with the slowness of the process. We're looking at what our next steps and options are.”

He said there has been a “little bit of work” and a “little bit of sampling,” but little real progress.

Poister would not say what action the DEP is considering. Through the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, the state could clean up the site and bill Zion for the costs.

After the state cited Zion last year for a series of alleged environmental violations, the DEP gave the company a March 31 deadline to clean up the property.

Zion asked for an extension, and the state moved the deadline to June.

“It's just not moving fast enough for us,” Poister said. “We gave Zion a very specific punch list saying, ‘Here's what needs to be done.'”

Poister said Zion's site manager, Frank Trigona, has been replaced. Owner Abe Zion hired Trigona to supervise cleanup and test for hazardous wastes that state inspectors found during several inspections. Among those wastes were asbestos, arsenic, acetone, lead, solvents and PCBs from electrical transformers.

Trigona oversaw the removal of scrap metal from dilapidated buildings, but little was done in the way of testing and remediation, Poister said.

He said soil samples are being tested for PCBs and the DEP is awaiting the results.

Trigona said he answered the DEP's questions about the project.

“I got the punch list, and I answered all the questions for Zion before I left,” he said.

Trigona said he left Zion's employ in a dispute over money. He said Zion has not paid him for his work.

“He didn't want to pay. They hate to pay,” Trigona said.

He said he brought in a company that did sampling for hazardous materials at a cost of $55,000. Trigona said he also removed diesel fuel from underground storage tanks, and the metal was sold for scrap. He said there is asbestos on the site, but the amount is insignificant.

“We did everything they wanted to do,” Trigona said.

Company owner Abe Zion is in his late 80s, and his business affairs are handled by his sons, according to Trigona.

His son, Mark, did not respond to a request for comment.

Zion's contentious relationship with Westmoreland County and the city of Jeannette began in 1989 when he purchased the former glass factory, promising to reopen it. The factory never resumed production, and the property has continued to deteriorate, hindering redevelopment efforts by the city and county.

Last year, the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. bid $305,000 for the 13.2-acre site and assumed ownership because Zion stopped paying property taxes. Zion is appealing.

Mark Zion is scheduled to give a deposition in the case on May 10, according to court records.

Zion also is appealing a series of environmental violations filed by the DEP involving the Clean Streams Act and the Air Pollution Control Act. The appeal is before the Environmental Hearing Board in Harrisburg.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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