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Hazelwood Residents Ask City To Clean Up Trash From Bankrupt Recycling Plant

Stanley Benovitch said his dog Trixie has been killing rats since February.

He said that stems from an infestation in Hazelwood resulting from the sudden closure of the Pittsburgh Recycling Plant.

The plant went bankrupt in January, and the owners left the building – and all of its trash – behind.

Now the residents of Hazelwood are calling for someone to come clean it up.

“We’ve talked to the state, we talked to the health department, we talked to the councilmen, we talked to all the different organizations here in the neighborhood,” said Hazel Blackman, president of Action United’s Pittsburgh Region Council. “We’ve been keeping in contact with them, and we keep hearing the same thing, we have to wait to see … the people that own the property is responsible for this.”

The residents have been told that the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings have made the situation challenging because the company owes the city money for recyclable goods.

A federal bankruptcy hearing is set for Monday in the Court of Common Pleas.

“They are going to court to try to get a ruling on a resale of the property which would actually help because in the resale, the new owners have already talked to the community groups, and they want to go in and rehab and fix up this location,” Councilman Corey O’Connor said.

Pittsburgh-based GGMJS LLC wants to buy the property, and O’Connor said City Council wants to ensure that the company has a good relationship with the residents of Hazelwood if they do acquire it.

“What we would like to work on with them is a cooperative agreement where not only do they rehab the waste that’s there, but that they go in and plant trees, maybe put up some sort of sound barrier so that they can show that they’re going to be good faith partners with this community,” O’Connor said.

At the very least, he hopes the judge allows council to act.

“Even if they allow us to get some resources in there just to clean up some of it to start would be great,” O’Connor said. “We can have one of our public works department maybe go in and get as much out as they possibly can and our environmental department agency as well.”

In the meantime, residents like Benovitch have to deal with the abandoned trash, and the issues that come with it.

Benovitch, who lives across the street from the plant, said he spent about $1,700 to fumigate his house because of the rats – money that will not be reimbursed.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s a health hazard, I get concerns that the dog could be bitten by a rat, get rabies,” Benovitch said. “My mother is 93 years old, she looks out her window, and all she sees is a big pile of garbage.”

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.
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