A Rush Township official says the township plans to follow up on a notice of violation from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding the demolition of a Hometown property.
This week the township received a letter via certified mail, dated Aug. 2, from Robert Laczi, solid waste specialist for the Waste Management Program at DEP's Northeast Regional Office, Wilkes-Barre.
Laczi's letter notified Steve Simchak, chairman of the Rush Township Board of Supervisors, that DEP has determined the township was in violation of the Solid Waste Management Act, as well as regulations under the Air Pollution Act, due to the demolition of the structure at 116 Mahanoy Avenue (Route 54) on June 9.
The structure, which is often referred to as the Fortunato property, is located adjacent to the Rush Township Municipal Building. The township is the owner of the property.
The DEP notice cited that the township failed to insure that the resulting waste was properly disposed of; that the demolition was conducted without prior notification to DEP and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and that it was conducted without prior notification of the estimated amount of regulated asbestos-containing material or the procedure employed to detect the presence of such material.
Rush Township contracted with Grand Prix Excavating, Claremont Avenue, to demolish the building.
DEP's Laczi had also issued a notice of violation to Grand Prix, dated June 21, about disposing of some of the wooden waste material on its property along Route 309 in Ginthers. Some township residents had complained about how the Fortunato debris was disposed, as Grand Prix's contract with the township indicated the debris was to be disposed of at a DEP-approved landfill.
On the township end, the Air Pollution Control Act requires that each owner and operator of demolition activities must notify the appropriate agencies of their intent to demolish at least 10 working days prior to demolition. The asbestos containing materials must be removed from a facility prior to it being demolished.
Laczi asked for the township to take the following corrective actions: provide an explanation as to why the proper notification was not submitted, including the dates over which the demolition took place; submit documentation indicating whether or not the asbestos inspection was conducted by a certified and licensed individual ; and submit a completed copy of the notification form.
Simchak said it is the township's intention to comply with DEP's requests.
"Our solicitor did not review this yet, but they want us to submit some additional paperwork," said Simchak when contacted Friday regarding the DEP notice. "We will submit any additional documentation that they require, and then we will be in full compliance."
As for Grand Prix Excavation, Simchak said the township met with Chuck Rogers, a DEP solid waste supervisor, On June 30 regarding the inspection of their property and the disposal of the Fortunato debris. Rogers reportedly determined the debris had since been properly disposed of by the contractor.
An interoffice memo was read at the Rush Supervisors' meeting on July 20 stating what Rogers had told the township, but there has been some confusion as to whether or not the township actually received a letter from DEP regarding the matter. In the July 21 edition of THE TIMES NEWS, it was reported that DEP had sent a letter to the supervisors.
"That was a memo to our files," explained Simchak. "Their person (Rogers) told us that verbally. There was no letter. I asked that it be typed up for our files. What Terri (Conville, the township's secretary/treasurer) read at the meeting was a prepared statement. It was never mentioned by any of us that we received a letter."
A call to Rogers for comment Friday reached his voice mail, which stated he would be out of the office until Aug. 9.
Mark Carmon, a spokeman for the DEP Northeast Regional office, said in an email, "Cleanup was completed at the site and we confirmed that with a re-inspection in late June. We are reviewing the case to determine if any further action on our part is warranted."