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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is seeking civil penalties of over $13 million from Neville Chemical Co. for failing to stop pollutants from entering the Ohio River.
Contamination from the company's operations on Neville Island, just outside Pittsburgh, ruined several public water supply wells, DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said in a recent statement.
A leak developed in one of the plant's industrial process lines earlier this year, allowing oil wastes to enter the sewer system on the island and causing vapor to build to dangerous levels, McGinty said.
The penalties demonstrate that "persistent failure to heed DEP orders to stop this serious public health threat will no longer be tolerated," the DEP said in a statement.
Last month, it looked as though the chemical company and the DEP would reach an agreement by the end of this year to clean up the 67-acre site.
An estimated 7.5 million gallons of oil has leeched into the soil and groundwater from the site, according to John Matviya, the DEP's regional manager of environmental cleanup.
The oil is used in the 78-year-old chemical company's hydrocarbon resin manufacturing processes, state and company officials have said. The oil contains toxic chemicals including benzene, toluene, xylene and naphthalene.