Drinking Water Declared Safe from River Spill; Intake Reopened

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
4 September 2011
By Luis Fabregas

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority reopened its intake valve in Aspinwall after the spill of a contaminant into the Allegheny River, an authority spokeswoman said on Saturday.

"We're back to normal operations at the plant," said Melissa Rubin, executive communications coordinator for the authority. She said the valve reopened shortly after midnight. "The treatment plant is no longer at risk."

Officials on Friday shut the valve because emergency dispatchers reported that several thousand gallons of industrial detergent were dumped into the Allegheny River at the Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Authority treatment plant in Harmar. The detergent produced foam on the surface of the water.

The product, called ethoxylated alcohol, was the same chemical that spilled into the Monongahela River last week in Fayette County. Although it is the same ingredient found in some household detergents, it can cause skin and eye irritation in humans.

Rubin said none of the chemicals reached the drinking water supply, which is safe to drink.

There were no restrictions placed on boaters, who went about their days in a normal fashion.

"We can swim in the water, just not where the spill occurred," said Bryan Reppermund, 20, of Cranberry, whose family owns a boat docked at the Outboard Haven Marina in Verona. "We're going to enjoy the day."

Luis Fabregas can be reached at lfabregas@tribweb.com or 412-320-7998.