PITTSBURGH (CN) – Environmentalists say sewage from McKeesport is polluting Pittsburgh’s drinking water with waste from oil and gas drilling, giving people heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer and other health problems, and making water drawn from the Monongahela River unsafe to drink, cook with or even bathe in.
Clean Water Action and Three Rivers Waterkeeper sued the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport in Federal Court.
Plaintiffs say they get drinking water from a point downstream from the Municipal Authority’s discharge and use the Monongahela for recreation. Members of the groups say they “suffer from and are at an increased risk of adverse health effects from exposure to oil and gas wastewaters” that are not properly treated before McKeesport dumps it into the Monongahela.
The environmentalists say that the Municipal Authority’s treatment system “is designed to treat sewage, but does not and cannot remove pollutants commonly found in oil and gas wastewater.”
They also claim the Municipal Authority “failed to disclose the oil and gas related pollutants and their concentrations in its discharge” in its renewal application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
Samples McKeesport’s effluent and of the Monongahela River taken by the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities and analyzed by a certified, independent laboratory showed pollutants that included “barium, calcium, magnesium, molybdenum, strontium, copper, bromide, chloride, and total dissolved solids,” according to the complaint.
McKeesport’s neighbors, the Allegheny Valley Joint Sewer Authority and Franklin Township Sewer Authority, stopped accepting oil and gas wastewater after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection “requested that drilling companies refrain from disposing oil and gas wastewater in municipal treatment works” in an order issued on April 19 this year, the environmental groups say.
Despite that order, McKeesport continues to violate the Clean Water Act and the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, and violates its permit by failing to properly monitor, limit and treat its oil and gas wastewater, the complaint states.
The plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment and an injunction ordering McKeesport to comply with Clean Water Act and the Clean Streams Law.
McKeesport is southeast of Pittsburgh.
The plaintiffs are represented by Emily Collins with the University of Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic and Three Rivers Waterkeeper’s legal director Patrick Grenter, of Homestead.