Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

There are thousands of abandoned coal mines dotting the landscape of Pennsylvania, and many of them leak water tainted with toxic metals like iron and manganese, which seeps into streams and groundwater.

 

It’s been a long, expensive process for the state to clean up the acid mine drainage. But state environmental officials now say an alternative method of remediation -- constructed wetlands -- could remove iron and manganese from mine drainage at a much lower cost.

Pittsburgh Sewer and Water Authority

In 2014, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority changed the treatment chemical used to prevent the corrosion of lead pipes, which keeps the toxic metal from leaching into drinking water.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said the switch—from soda ash to caustic soda—posed no threat to public health, but the DEP has cited PWSA for not clearing the change with the agency first, as is required by the state's safe drinking water regulations.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The city's water authority got a slap on the wrist Monday from the Wolf administration two years after making a critical change to the chemicals added to Pittsburgh drinking water.

State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley said Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority should have gotten approval from the state before switching from soda ash to caustic soda for corrosion control.

Tim Lambert / WITF

Pennsylvania is facing a $2.9 million deficit in the fund that supports its oversight of oil and gas wells in the next fiscal year, according to a projection from Governor Tom Wolf’s budget office.

Around 1,200 fish were killed in the Susquehanna River Saturday after a power plant malfunction caused water temperature to drop 13 degrees.

A glitch at a power unit at Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in York Haven, Pennsylvania, caused cold water to funnel through a discharge channel into the river. The water temperature in the river dropped from about 45 degrees to 32 degrees in one hour.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Sediment and pollution still plague the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which supplies water for agricultural purposes in several states, including Pennsylvania.

Ray Bodden / Flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday he hopes newly released standards will help lower ethane emissions in the state.

The greenhouse gas can leak or be released into the atmosphere during natural gas production, transportation and processing. 

Keith Srakocic / AP Images

New regulations for oil and gas drilling released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection hope to address environmental concerns by many residents throughout the Commonwealth. Before Wednesday’s revisions were announced, the state hadn’t modified drilling rules since 1984.  Recent increases in hydraulic fracturing and concerns over potential health risks prompted the DEP to begin the process of updating the laws in 2011.  David Yoxtheimer, a hydrogeologist with Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, explains the new statues were met with criticism from environmental advocates as well as members of the oil and gas industry.

“If you’re not making anybody happy on either side of the spectrum, then you must be doing something right,” he said.

robposse / Flickr

Smallmouth bass still haven't recovered from a precipitous population drop in the Susquehanna River  10 years ago, according to a report released Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

todo / flickr

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is asking residents to help develop a plan to cut carbon pollution in the state.

The EPA finalized the Clean Power Plan on Aug. 3. It’s the first set of national standards to limit carbon emissions from power plants, the largest source of emissions in the U.S.

The plan sets to reduce 2005 emission levels nationally by 32 percent by 2030.

Each state will have to write an implementation plan with. The first listening session in Allegheny County is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 21 on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus.

Environmental permits issued to Royal Dutch Shell could pave the way for construction of the proposed Appalachia ethane cracker in Beaver County, the Department of Environmental Protection said Monday. 

AP Photo/Andrew Rush

Although Pennsylvania has experienced a recent boom in natural gas production, many wells have no direct connection to the main infrastructure of pipelines.

The Wolf administration has created the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force (PITF), to oversee the fulfillment of the demand for connecting pipelines.

Shona Na. / Flickr

Twenty-five counties across Pennsylvania are splitting $2 million in funds from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in an effort to fight West Nile virus and the mosquitos that carry it.

Allegheny County received $171,400 this year to study and control the infected insect populations, while Philadelphia County received the most with a $244,340 grant.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is recognizing Air Quality Awareness Week by encouraging Pennsylvanians to take action to improve the state’s air quality.

State entities across the country and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have also been taking part in the awareness week, which ends May 1.

  Despite Wednesday’s rain and a harsh winter the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental (DEP) has placed 27 counties on a drought watch for low levels of groundwater.

“Fortunately we have had a significant amount of snowmelt. That does help, but specifically we’re dealing with low groundwater levels, and groundwater takes a little bit more time to recharge then say surface water would,” said DEP spokeswoman Amanda Witman.

PA DEP

Nearly 90 percent of Pleasant Hills sits above old mines. So, the state Department of Environmental Protection is sending mine subsidence insurance (MSI) reminders to about 2,000 property owners in the borough.

The fliers show each recipient’s property on a map in relation to the nearest abandoned mines and urge residents to apply online for MSI, with coverage ranging from $5,000 to $500,000.

Pleasant Hills will be the first municipality to receive the mailers, according to DEP spokesman John Poister.

Conservationists hope to keep a well-used section of Stonycreek alive thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

In all, the DEP is awarding more than $23.2 million for various watershed projects.

The DEP awarded the grants to a total of 109 projects in the commonwealth through the Growing Greener Program, Acid Mine Drainage Set Aside Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program.

Daniel Foster / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced it has signed a consent order and agreement with Range Resources for violations at six of its impoundments in Washington County. The $4.15 million fine is the largest ever brought against a company in the Marcellus Shale era. We'll be joined by DEP spokesman John Poister.

Electric cars have come a long way from having short ranges, and a wimpy top speed of 40 miles per hour. Now many electric cars can go upwards of 130mph, have a range of 250 miles, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is trying to get more motorists to purchase one.

After an 18-month audit, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been called “outdated, understaffed and underfunded” when it comes to monitoring the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling on water quality. 

“For an analogy internally we believe it’s like firefighters trying to put out a five-alarm fire with a 20-foot garden hose,” said Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The audit resulted in eight findings with 29 recommendations. DePasquale said 18 of the recommendations would not cost tax payers any more money.

Two drilling pads in Washington County are storing Marcellus Shale drilling sludge with radioactivity levels that are too high for regular disposal.

According to John Poister, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokesman, drilling company Range Resources sent the department a request for a Department of Transportation exemption form March 1st.

The form would allow Range Resources to move waste that has a “higher than background radiation level” - meaning that it is a higher level than the radiation that is usually found in the environment.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says it found “no pollutants that would indicate a potential health concern for local residents or emergency responders” as a result of the Greene County Chevron well fire incident.

It took crews brought in by the company two weeks to cap the fire that broke out Feb. 11 in Dunkard Township. The fire claimed the life of one employee.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the department used temporary air monitoring devices to look at the levels of 57 different toxic air pollutants.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded about $2.1 million in grants to 26 counties to combat West Nile Virus.

Allegheny County received $168,114 to study and control the virus-carrying mosquito populations. Philadelphia County got the most at $231,298.

DEP spokeswoman Amanda Witman said West Nile Virus studies are best handled at the local level.

Televisions, computers and smartphones are popular gifts during the holidays, but what should you do with your old electronics?

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) wants to remind Pennsylvanians they must recycle unwanted electronics.

According to the DEP, electronics that are thrown away usually end up in landfills and create an environmental hazard.

The state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold hearings next month on a proposed package of regulations that would govern surface operations of oil and gas producers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has proposed a consent decree with Waste Treatment Corporation following allegations of violations of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Summer may be coming to a close, but the threat of West Nile Virus continues.

The Department of Health has detected Pennsylvania’s first confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus this year.

A Montgomery County man tested positive for West Nile Aug. 7 and was hospitalized, and the infection was confirmed in a York County man July 20, who did not require hospitalization.

Health department spokeswoman Kait Gillis said both men are recovering.

Sixty human cases of West Nile Virus were recorded in 2012.