Group finds site to dump coal mine waste
A plan by a Wilmerding nonprofit to clean up acid mine drainage in Turtle Creek could end up benefiting residents of Trafford, media giant Viacom and sportsmen and other nature lovers throughout the eastern suburbs of Allegheny County.
Dianne Selvaggio, executive director of the Turtle Creek Watershed Association, said the nonprofit is working out a deal with Viacom to move up to 190,000 tons of coal mine refuse from a site in Delmont, Westmoreland County, to an abandoned former Westinghouse manufacturing site right under the Route 130 bridge in Trafford.
Viacom took over ownership of the 13-acre site when it bought CBS Corp., which had earlier assumed Westinghouse.
The corporation needs the fill to cover up ground contaminated by decades of Westinghouse electric parts manufacturing.
“Everyone is trying to sort out the details on each end, and we anticipate starting to move the material in a few weeks,” Selvaggio said.
Representatives of Viacom could not be reached for comment.
Selvaggio said the nonprofit is using a combination of grants to cover the almost $1 million cost of moving the refuse pile. She said the work could take from five to six months because of construction work that is slowing traffic on Route 22.
Movement of the refuse is crucial to the health of Turtle Creek, a stream popular with eastern suburban fishermen that runs through Monroeville before emptying into the Monongahela River.
An abandoned mine under the refuse pile is currently spilling 1,000 gallons per minute of acid mine drainage into the stream.
In years of low rainfall, the heavy toxic flow makes the stream so poisonous that trout and other gamefish cannot survive its waters for very long.
Once Selvaggio’s group moves the refuse, it plans to construct an underground limestone drain to treat the acid mine flow at what is called the Borland Farm project.
According to a Trafford official, once the 13-acre site is covered over, it could become part of plans for an extended bicycle and hiking trail, and soccer or other recreational fields in the borough.
“We’d like to see a series of athletic fields and small skate park,” said Trafford Councilman Chris Espenshade.
That’s not all that might be in the works for that part of Trafford.
With plans for the renovation of the Route 130 bridge in Trafford about three years away, the removal of a dam on Turtle Creek that impedes boaters, the extension of a hiking trail from Saltzburg into Trafford and Monroeville and a redesign of Route 130 traffic to increase the commercial viability of an adjoining 8-acre parcel owned by Viacom all could become a reality, Espenshade said.