County buying specialized Hazmat boat with federal money |

County buying specialized Hazmat boat with federal money

Rich Cholodofsky

Westmoreland County’s public safety department is going off land.

Officials announced Tuesday that the county will use a $78,742 federal grant to buy a specialized motor boat to help clean up hazardous materials spills and patrol for containments that could affect the local water supply.

“This is another vulnerability we have that can now be addressed property,” said Public Safety Director Roland Mertz.

The 21-foot boat will be first of its kind in Westmoreland County and will be outfitted to assist the public safety department’s 60-member volunteer hazmat team. It will allow the emergency response team to contain spills, test for radioactive materials and assist in cleanup activities. It will not serve as a water rescue vessel.

Christopher Tantlinger, director of the county’s hazmat operations, said the grant through the Department of Homeland Security, will for the first time enable response teams to work on the five rivers that border Westmoreland County as well as local lakes and reservoirs.

“Historically, we have not had a water component for hazmat,” Tantlinger said. “Emergency response was left up to whatever contractor could respond. This will allow the hazmat team to mitigate the response.”

Westmoreland County touches parts of the Youghiogeny, Monongahela, Allegheny, Kiskiminetas and Conemaugh rivers. The boat also could be used on local lakes and at the Beaver Run Reservoir, if needed.

The grant will pay for the boat, along with staff training, equipment and protection for its crew, including life vests, helmets and gloves.

The boat will feature equipment to allow response crews to set up booms in the water to contain spills. It will have monitors to test for radioactive materials and other dangerous contaminants. A landing mechanism will allow the vessel to load and unload from riverbanks without having to dock, Tantlinger said.

Officials hope to have the boat delivered this year with training of staff to be completed throughout the winter.

“We hope to have the boat put in the water by next spring,” Tantlinger said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.