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Plans to move pyrite from I-99 site put on hold by PennDOT

PennDOT has announced it will postpone plans to dispose of pyrite (acid rock) from sections of Interstate 99 in Centre County.
PennDOT secretary Allen D. Biehler made the announcement yesterday. He said the state’s transportation agency would re-examine its plans for the disposal of the substance.
In a press release, Biehler said, “In the last 10 days, there has been significant concern raised by the public and local officials about plans to transport this pyrite from the site in Centre County to a disposal site in Pine Township, Indiana County.
“While there is no danger or health hazard to the public in transporting this material to a site, I have directed a halt to any of those plans while we begin an immediate evaluation of all options for disposal of this material, said Biehler.
“I have been meeting with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Secretary Kathleen McGinty to discuss all options available to us,” said the PennDOT secretary. “Our two agencies will continue to work together in this effort as we analyze and study all options for the disposal of the pyrite from the Interstate 99 project.
Our first concern remains protecting the public and making sure we appropriately consider each alternative and the impact it will have on our communities. We want to do this in the least disruptive and most effective manner,” said Biehler.
The secretary’s announcement came ahead of a meeting that was scheduled for next Tuesday on an application for a DEP permit to place the acid rock at a site owned by Robindale Energy Services in Indiana County. The March 7 meeting was cancelled.
Last month, a public hearing was held in Pine Township and more than 300 people attended.
The Indiana Gazette reported in a Feb. 14, 2006 article that residents there don’t want potential pollution and don’t believe the acid rock can be trucked safely. The article also noted Indiana County residents didn’t trust what PennDOT and DEP representatives were telling them.
If the plan would go through as proposed, several hundred thousands tons of rock would be transported over a 75-mile route that would include Blair County. Eventually it would be placed at the Robindale site in Pine Township.
The pyritic rock can cause acid drainage if it is exposed to air and precipitation. PennDOT’s final remediation plan also calls for the encasement of some of the rock that can\’t be safely removed from the site at Skytop in Centre County.
Editor’s note: Details from a Feb. 14, 2006 Indiana Gazette article by Randy Wells were used with permission.