Mar 28, 2007

Pittsburgh DEP Orders Company to Stop Dumping Contaminated Wastewater

The Department of Environmental Protection today issued an administrative order to Emery Tree Service Inc. to stop, within 48 hours, the unauthorized discharge of untreated wastewater to Deer Creek, and to stop, within 30 days, accepting all wood waste at its Indiana Township facility in Allegheny County.

The order effectively shuts down the composting and processing functions of the business.

“The violations DEP discovered during recent inspections were blatant and showed complete disregard for the environment and the water quality of Deer Creek,” said DEP Regional Director Kenneth Bowman. “We tried to get Emery Tree Service to do the right thing, but in the end we had to shut them down in order to protect Deer Creek and the health of the public.”

The action was taken after DEP inspections last year and follow-up inspections in February revealed multiple violations of the Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Streams Law, including the discovery that Emery employees were pumping untreated leachate from the facility’s mulching area into a storm water catch basin that ultimately discharges into Deer Creek.

Field inspections also showed that runoff from compost piles in the facility’s mulching area escapes collection and discharges – untreated – to the surrounding area, as evidenced by the presence of foam and a discolored discharge. The discharges were particularly evident during wet weather.

Laboratory testing of wastewater discharges and runoff coming from the wood recycling and composting facility showed that it contained iron, manganese, aluminum and fecal coliform bacteria, and created an excess biochemical oxygen demand. Presence of these metals beyond established standards and a lack of biochemical oxygen could endanger aquatic life.

DEP proposed a consent order and agreement to Emery in January that would have allowed it to continue to operate while bringing the facility into compliance. When an agreement could not be reached, DEP was forced to issue an administrative order, which allows Emery to process the remaining waste on site for 60 days. After 90 days, the order suspends the general permit that authorized Emery to process and mulch wood waste. The order also provides Emery one year to remove any remaining mulch and compost.