Chemicals including ammonia and cyanide spilled onto the ground from a above-ground holding tank at Erie Coke Corp. and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is requiring the company to clean up the spill according to specific environmental guidelines.
According to Go Erie, the plant produces coke that is used to make steel. The order states the tank that failed is part of an industrial wastewater treatment system that processes wastewater used in coke production.
According to Go Erie, details of the spill, as well as new violations alleged by DEP, are included in what is known as a field order, filed by DEP against Erie Coke.
DEP claims that Erie Coke failed to properly operate and maintain the tank in question; wastewater was released onto the ground without a permit; and that the spill created a danger of pollution to nearby Lake Erie.
Erie Coke’s plant is located at the foot of East Avenue, according to Go Erie.
DEP officials have ordered Erie Coke to submit a written plan for removing wastewater from the tank in question and mandated that a certified professional test the tank within the next 10 days.
They have also ordered Erie Coke to properly dispose of “wastewater and impacted soils/material” and “remediate the release of wastewater” from the tank within the next 30 to 60 days, according to the field order.
According to the order, a hole developed in the tank on March 18 and approximately 300 gal of wastewater spilled inside the plant.
DEP officials inspected the plant on March 19, and Erie Coke had the tank repaired by welding a large metal plate to it.
According to Go Erie, the tank failed again, releasing an unspecified amount of wastewater that contains, among other regulated substances, benzene and naphthalene, ammonia and cyanide onto the ground.
DEP officials returned to Erie Coke on Monday to investigate. According to Go Erie, the incident is the latest regulatory problem for Erie Coke.