New signs installed along Sewickley Creek warn visitors of wastewater

If you happen to boat or fish along the Sewickley Creek in Yukon, you may notice a few new warning signs along the bank.

The Mountain Watershed Alliance put up signs on the banks of the Sewickley Creek across from the MAX Environmental Technology Waste Facility in Yukon as a warning for anyone who might boat or fish on the water.

“The first thing they say is, ‘I had no idea that was there,’” said Eric Harder with the Mountain Watershed Alliance.

The signs say arsenic, lead, cyanide, cadmium, and more could be in the water. The watershed says it comes from the wastewater in a pipe from MAX Environmental Technologies.

“Right away we’re concerned that people don’t know what’s coming into the waterway,” Harder said. “If they do know, then we feel it’s up to them to make that decision about...if they’re going to eat the fish out of here - if they’re going to let their kids play.”

The State Department of Environmental Protection allows those chemicals to an extent.

But, tests show there are times when levels of some of those materials are higher.

In February 2023, the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency found levels of zinc 927% higher than what was allowed.

Carl Spadaro, the Environmental General Manager at MAX Environmental Technologies told Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek there is no threat and they haven’t exceeded any limits in the last eight months.

“We’ve seen the signs and see what they say,” Spadaro said. “We do have a permit from the Pennsylvania DEP to discharge treated wastewater from our facility, and it is treated. We’ve been authorized to discharge treated wastewater into Sewickley Creek since the 1980s. This is nothing new.”

But, the Mountain Watershed Alliance wants people to know, and for MAX Environmental to be held accountable if and when they exceed their limitations.

“We’re not medical professionals. We can not definitively say that someone would swim in Sewickley Creek or recreate in Sewickley Creek and get sick because of these things,” said Stacey Magda, Managing Organizer with Mountain Watershed Alliance. “But, we want people to be aware that they could be interacting with those very very serious things like I said to protect themselves.”

If you happen to see any water discoloration, fish kills, or anything that doesn’t seem normal in the water, you’re asked to call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s emergency hotline at 800-541-2050

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