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State DEC analyzing waste spill samples


dani palmer / Petersburg Pilot

Sludge from the Petersburg Borough Wastewater Utility slides down a hill leading to a stream at the borough's landfill. The Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating the spill.

The Petersburg Borough Public Works Department has met a 48 hour nuisance abatement order issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for a spillage of waste, but an investigation continues.

The Wastewater Utility transports and buries piles of solid waste at the borough's landfill about once a week. Last week, while digging a hole with an excavator, Public Works Director Karl Hagerman said, sludge sitting to the side to be buried slid down a hill to a stream that runs to the Sandy Beach Park area.

No part of Sandy Beach was ever closed down as the sludge, made up of particles that float from the plant mixed with a hydrated lime that kills pathogens and soil, wasn't visible in the stream beyond the first 30 feet, Hagerman said.

Mike Solter with DEC's Division of Water said it appears the stream does go subsurface at times, which would help filter it, but that it's hard to tell what the impact will be at this point.

"I'm fairly confident once there's cleanup at the site, any future impacts will be nil," Hagerman said.

Solter said DEC has taken samples from the location to see what went into the stream; "to get a better picture of what happened down there."

They're in the process of analyzing those samples now.

He said there is the possibility of a fine, but that DEC will "determine the best path forward" once the investigation is complete. There are issues ranging from Solid Waste, to the Division of Water, to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Until the analysis is completed, there's not much DEC can do.

The department learned about the spill near the end of the day Thursday, March 30, and issued the nuisance abatement order on that Friday afternoon.

From the top of the landfill slope to the stream sat 60 to 75 cubic yards of the sludge, Hagerman said. A typical dump truck holds 10 cubic yards.

The Public Works Director noted the cleanup "went good and bad at the same time." They met the abatement order, getting the material out of the water, but their machine got stuck at one point.

They're now working on "dressing up the hillside," building a road to serve as a dike between the soil and water and closing out the hole.


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