POLITICO has learned that a chemical leak in the Pittsburgh area has put the spotlight back on the industry’s nighttime cleaning services.
A report from the Pittsburgh Business Times has reported that the contamination in a chemical facility in West Chester is a precursor to the chemical leak that sent more than 200,000 gallons of benzene into a residential neighborhood last week.
The benzene, which can cause cancer, is one of the most widely used cleaners in industrial sites and has been found in more than 100 chemical spills in Pennsylvania, the report said.
But a new report from Pittsburgh-based industrial cleaning company SDS Industries says the chemical spill in the industrial park of West Chester could be the precursor to a future spill.
The company said it has been told the spill may have been triggered by a faulty tank system at the chemical plant.
The contamination in the West Chester chemical facility may be the catalyst for a chemical release that could lead to a benzene leak in Pittsburgh.
It’s not the first time the industrial cleaning business has been targeted by the chemical industry.
The Allegheny County Environmental Health Department last year identified benzene in five of the state’s most industrial sites, including one that was one of three facilities to be shut down last year.
The cleanup efforts for the West Potomac spill were suspended, but SDS is now working with Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to identify a source of the contamination.
The chemical spill was the first industrial-related chemical spill to cause a health concern for Pittsburgh in decades.
A chemical spill is a problem that has existed in the area for years, and it’s not uncommon for chemicals to get into industrial sites over time.
The pollution in the contamination could be a precursor for the benzene spill, said Kevin Moulton, SDS president and CEO.
“It’s a very long process that’s taking place in a lot of our facilities,” Moulson said.
“We know that benzene can get into your skin and that’s why we’re really trying to protect our employees and our communities.
The spill is just the beginning of the cleanup.”
SDS has been working with Pittsburgh’s Department for Environmental Protection and the Allegheny Community Health Department to find a safe and effective way to remove benzene from industrial sites.
Moulston said it’s a process that requires a long-term collaboration between the chemical company and the EPA.
SDS, which operates facilities in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Pennsylvania, is part of a $30 million cleanup project underway in the Alleghenys.
The city’s Department is also working with SDS on a plan to relocate more than 1,000 jobs to the city and move the site of the chemical facility from a polluted industrial area to a more environmentally friendly site.
Sds Industrial Cleaning, a division of SDS Technologies, is contracted by the Pittsburgh-area health department to clean industrial sites for five days a week.
On Monday, Moulons team was inspecting the facility for any signs of contaminants.
“I’m still in shock, it’s just amazing,” Moulston said.