Radiation measuring device triggered by load at Yukon facility
State officials are investigating a load of hazardous waste that set off radiation monitoring detector alarms last week at MAX Environmental Technologies Inc.'s hazardous waste treatment and storage facility in Yukon.
Department of Environmental Protection inspectors received “inconsistent readings” from the industrial waste pile last week and planned to return to remeasure the material, said John Poister, a spokesman at the department's Pittsburgh office. Environmental regulators have taken samples of the waste and will test those, Poister said.
“We're determining what needs to be done,” Poister said.
The company said it is working with the state to determine the source of the radioactive material, but it believes the waste that triggered the radiation detector alarms is a sludge from the treatment of wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations.
MAX Environmental, based in Upper St. Clair, maintains that there is no threat to human health or the environment from the material, which is at the company's Impoundment No. 6.
“We have the material isolated and covered so that it is not disturbed,” Susan Z. Forney, a company spokeswoman, wrote in an email response to questions.
The amount of waste that triggered the radiation detector alarms is less than a roll-off box and contained in a 6-foot by 6-foot area, MAX Environmental said.
South Huntingdon Supervisor Mel Cornell, who serves as the township inspector, said he was concerned that dust from MAX Environmental, which has blown from the waste pile onto neighboring homes on Spring Street, could contain traces of radioactive material that will affect the health of local residents.
Cornell said meter readings from the waste pile measured from 240 micro Roentgens to 260 micro Roentgens in varying spots when he conducted a routine inspection of the hazardous waste treatment facility on Aug. 12. Cornell said the meter he used, which was purchased by the township, found radiation levels much higher than those found when MAX Environmental's employees measured the same waste.
“It was bad enough for me to alert the rest of the township,” Cornell said.
Poister said he was not certain whether the readings the DEP inspectors received were higher than MAX Environmental's permitted level of 140 micro Roentgens, plus a background reading of 10 micro Roentgens.
MAX Environmental said its employees, the state inspectors and township officials found varying measurement readings from less than 140 micro Roentgens to about 250 micro Roentgens.
Until the investigation is done and any necessary corrective actions are completed, MAX Environmental said it will not accept any waste containing naturally occurring radiation levels above background levels — that is, any waste that would trigger the entrance portal alarm, Forney said.
That naturally occurring radioactive material refers to rocks, minerals and soil that contain small amounts of radium, thorium or uranium. When those soils or rocks are exposed, processed or concentrated, they are considered “technologically enhanced,” she said.
MAX Environmental is trying to determine which firm sent the waste to MAX by reviewing its waste tracking and shipment paperwork, Forney said.
The investigation takes place at a time when MAX Environmental plans to seek a 10-year renewal of its hazardous waste management permit from the state. Its permit expires in February 2015.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- At 87, Rostraver man still entertaining polka fans
- 1 injured in Mt. Pleasant Twp. accident
- Machine operator avoids serious injuries in accident in North Huntingdon
- He hasn’t just fiddled around
- Harhai campaign emails from 2007 under review, Westmoreland County DA says
- Gluten-Free Living Support Group meetings in Mt. Pleasant open to all
- Ligonier Township considers cellphone tower requests
- Police: Penn Township man was ‘lonely,’ so he called 911
- 1 dead, 1 injured in Derry Twp. crash
- Expansion in works for Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum
- 2 suspects charged with second robbery in Hempfield