By Paul Martino

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Industrial chemical contamination may have affected the residential area adjacent to the former National Torch Tip plant in O’Hara Township and Aspinwall Borough.

During an ongoing investigation into the former Torch Tip plant, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) in soil and groundwater, as well as evidence of indoor air contamination at a vacant property next to the former plant.

The investigation is not yet complete, and the extent of the contamination in other nearby buildings is still unknown. The DEP is proposing the installation of special systems designed to draw vapors from underneath basement floors in an effort to reduce the buildup of chemical vapors inside buildings in the vicinity.

“They have the potential to cause some problems for humans over a long period of exposure,” said John Poister, of the DEP. “There’s some danger to pregnant women for example.”

They used to clean steel at the plant, and that left a lot chemicals behind in the soil. The site is now a strip.

“Chemicals that were used by this company for cleaning metal; they’re essentially solvents and cleaners,” said Poister.

It’ll cost taxpayers about $150,000 to make it safe again.

DEP personnel will outline the investigation and mitigation plan at a public hearing held at 6:30 p.m. on June 26, at the Aspinwall Borough building, located at 217 Commercial Avenue in Aspinwall.

Those wishing to provide testimonies at the hearing should register in writing before noon on June 26, with Community Relations Coordinator John Poister in care of the DEP’s Southwest Regional Office at 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or by phone at (412)-442-4203. On-site registration will also be accepted the evening of the hearing.

Those unable to attend the hearing should submit written comments to Edward Litwin, Project Manager, Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. The public comment period for the cleanup plan will close Aug. 9.

The DEP has been conducting ongoing soil, air and groundwater sampling since 2011 under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.

For more information, visit

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