PA Chemical Tank Laws Tougher Than West Virginia

Jan 17, 2014

Chemical storage tanks on Neville Island, west of Pittsburgh.
Credit Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

The chemical leak at Freedom Industries that left 300,000 people without water in West Virginia brings up questions in other states, like Pennsylvania, about the possibility of other water contamination catastrophes. There have been spills into Pennsylvania waterways before, and regulators say those incidents have led to more strict laws here. Regulators say a spill is less likely here than in West Virginia, but clean water advocates aren't so sure.

On Neville Island, in the Ohio River, a few miles west of downtown Pittsburgh, the eastern end of island is thick with chemical and industrial plants, belching out smoke and steam.

“On one end of the island is the water intake, on the other end is the neighborhood," says Cassi Steenblok with Clean Water Action.

The water intake and treatment plant she mentioned sits In the midst of the chemical facilities. It pulls from the Ohio River to provide 200 thousand people with water.

Standing across the street from large chemical storage tanks, Steenblok worries that a leak here could cause problems similar to last week’s spill in West Virginia.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner The Allegheny Front.