DEP: 'Good chunk' of cleanup done at Jeannette Glass site
The owners of the former Jeannette Glass plant have cleaned up most of the environmental waste at the 13-acre site under order of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
John Poister, a DEP spokesman in Pittsburgh, said Zion Bullitt Avenue has been cooperating with the agency on a list of tasks that must be completed before the two sides can reach a consent order that will end the marathon battle among Zion, the state and the city of Jeannette.
“They've got a good chunk of it done. They've made enough progress that we've nearly reached the stage where we can at least have the things cleaned up we felt were the most environmentally egregious,” Poister said. “They have provided us with the significant documentation that we asked for.”
City solicitor Scott Avolio questioned the state's optimistic assessment.
“I am surprised, based on a previous report, that the Zion property could be in compliance without the expenditure of a significant amount of funds,” he said. “It doesn't appear that those kinds of funds could have been expended. It's somewhat shocking.”
Zion is appealing a series of alleged environmental violations filed by the DEP for failure to clean up the site. The state Environmental Hearing Board has scheduled a status conference for July 12.
In January, Zion was tasked with completing a list of cleanup items. In April, the two sides issued a status report on the cleanup and agreed in principle to the terms of a consent order that the company will have to sign.
Zion removed glass waste, known as cullet, and provided documents to the DEP proving that the waste was removed and disposed of properly.
Among the remaining substances and items Zion needs to remove are mercury vapor lamps, demolition waste, asbestos, petroleum-filled containers and soil contaminated with PCBs, according to a report submitted to the Environmental Hearing Board.
“We want to complete the items by July 12. That will make the hearing moot,” Poister said. “There would be some discussion of the fines and violations. There would be some resolution, and they would sign the agreement.”
Meanwhile, a dispute over ownership of the former glass factory has yet to be resolved in Westmoreland County court.
The city has intervened in a lawsuit filed by Zion to block the tax sale of the property to the county. The company owes more than $300,000 in delinquent taxes, according to a court filing.
The county purchased the property at a tax sale in September for $305,000.
Avolio said the city is intervening because Jeannette is owed $17,000. Zion owes $11,000 to the county and $44,800 to the school district, according to tax records.
The city has subpoenaed Frank Trigona, the former site manager for Zion, for a deposition in the case on July 30, according to court records. Trigona is expected to be asked whether the company was given adequate notice that Zion was three years behind in paying its real estate taxes.
Part of Zion's argument is that the county failed to give the company proper notice that the taxes were due and failed to properly post tax notices on the property, according to defense attorney Aaron Kress.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.