Jeannette Glass plant cleanup timetable set
The owner of the former Jeannette Glass plant has signed an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection to establish a timetable to finish cleaning up hazardous and industrial wastes at the now-closed plant.
DEP spokesman John Poister said on Wednesday that Zion Bullitt Avenue Ltd. agreed to a timeline, ranging from several days to a year, for each of the remediation tasks demanded by the state at the plant, which has been the subject of years of legal disputes with the city and state.
Zion faces a fine in connection with the cleanup, but the amount has not been determined, Poister said.
A consent order is the same as a court order and is legally binding on the parties and is enforceable by the courts.
The company on Wednesday dropped an appeal pending before the state Environmental Hearing Board in Harrisburg that Zion filed seeking to overturn a series of air, water and waste pollution violations issued by the state in 2011 after an inspection of the facility found hazardous wastes, glass cullet, asbestos, chemicals, heavy metals, and PCBs contained in discarded electrical transformers. The cancer-causing PCBs were mixed in the oil inside the transformers as a fire retardant.
“Zion has been given a definite time frame to complete this long task of cleaning up the site,” Poister said. “They agreed to the cleanup schedule. It's in black and white, and everybody signed off on it.”
Poister also said as the company completes each of the remaining tasks, it must provide written documentation of the work to the state, which then will be inspected by the DEP to ensure compliance.
“They've done a lot of work, so why not go all the way,” he added. “They're halfway down the road.”
Work remains on a portion of the plant known as the “batch house,” where chemicals were mixed for use in the glass-making process, Poister said.
Zion agreed to complete the work at the “batch house” within a year, according to the order. Mark Zion of New York City, whose father, Abraham, owns the property, could not be reached for comment.
State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, who has pushed the state to get tough with Zion, said she has not seen the consent order.
“It's positive that there's progress being made over the cleanup effort,” she said. “It's very positive.”
Jeannette's attorney, Scott Avolio, said the city, given its past problems with Zion over the cleanup and plans for the site, remains skeptical despite the agreement.
“If Zion cooperates with the consent order, the city will benefit,” Avolio said. “The city will look at the enforcement procedures if and when Zion fails to perform the work as stated in the order.”
Zion's legal troubles are not over.
A trial will be held in Westmoreland County on March 24 to determine ownership of the property.
The county's industrial development agency purchased the site for $305,000 after the firm stopped paying real estate taxes.
Zion appealed the action, arguing that the county did not give the company proper legal notice that the taxes were delinquent and the property would be sold for back taxes. Once the site is cleaned up, the county wants to redevelop it.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.