CREIGHTON, Pa. (KDKA) — After more than a century in Creighton, Pittsburgh Glass Works, PWG is closing up shop. But as East Deer Township’s largest employer leaves town, it’s the environmental mess it’s leaving behind that has residents most concerned.
Residents in the family-oriented town of East Deer are used to hearing trains, but they’d rather not get used to the smell.
Bill Stuckley is a concerned resident who lives near the Pittsburgh Glass Works plant in Creighton. He and his cousin Josh Stuckley say the smell in the air from the plant is causing a sickening odor.
“It smells like sulfur and is hard to take for any length of time,” Bill said.
“You can only be out for a couple of minutes without feeling nauseous,” Josh said.
According to concerned residents, the smell may be coming from an underground fire at the 135-year-old Pittsburgh Glass Works plant. It’s been burning for months, but just days ago, blue flames emerged for the first time above ground. An employee of the plant took cell phone video of the flames inside the plant gates.
As lifelong residents of Creighton who live in the shadow of the plant, the Stuckleys and others say the sulfur smell is from coal by-products ablaze underground.
“And now it’s ignited and it’s all on fire, smoldering, burning, spreading,” Bill said, “and we’re concerned it’s going to either come over here or we are going to have to breathe this in the rest of our lives.”
Bill is having health problems that he says began when the fire began.
“Chronic sinusitis, asthma, chest colds, stuff like that,” he said.
Joe Harris lives near the plant with his wife and young boys. He’s concerned for his family and is in remission from cancer.
“I started getting better and start moving again, and then you find out about this and you’re out back cooking or have people over and you get those tough smells, it makes it pretty tough,” Harris said.
An employee who works at the plant that manufactures windshields for cars shared pictures with KDKA that he says show the floor inside the plant buckling from the heat of the underground fire.
Pittsburgh Glass Works set up a community website which acknowledged that the flames from the underground fire could be seen above ground, but they say there is not a threat nor environmental concerns for the community.
The mayor of East Deer tells KDKA-TV News he has reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Protection as well as the Allegheny County Health Department for help and answers.