PUNXSUTAWNEY, JEFFERSON COUNTY---The former site of a metal company in Punxsutawney is so contaminated that the DEP needs to demolish the building to start cleaning it up.
Berlin Metals was one of two electroplating companies that operated in a Punxsutawney neighborhood, and DEP officials said the specific combination of hazardous materials used by those companies it likely the cause of the contamination.
In order to cleanup the ground and water in and around the vacant Berlin Metals building, the DEP will have to tear the building down, along with a house across the street.
Janice Stear and her two daughters lived in a house right next to the building for years, and she said the DEP found considerable contamination in her basement.
“I was scared for [my daughters] because they lived there, and they were outside playing and swimming, and if that got into the drinking water, they drank out of that water, we cooked with that water, they played in that water. I was just afraid of it maybe somehow affecting them,” Stear said.
Just one block over, neighbors say they’ve never had a problem with the site, but those who have lived here long enough remember green liquid running through the streets years ago.
“Now I have seen it on the road, but that was years ago, not recently,” said area resident, Dave McConnaughey.
DEP officials said once the building is demolished, they can begin removing the hazardous materials from the groundwater, and they hope the property will once again be useable for the construction of new homes and businesses.
Stear and her daughters have moved out of the house adjacent to the Berlin Metals building, but now live just across the street.
“Our kids can run and play, and we don’t have to worry about it anymore,” she said, “We’re no longer over there, but still over here, and hopefully for all the other kids and people living around this area, they’re not going to have to worry about contamination problems anymore.”
Demolition is scheduled to begin July 12. The DEP will hold a public meeting next Wednesday night, July 7, at 6:30 in the Punxsutawney Borough Council Chambers. Residents can come and learn more about the project and ask any questions they may have.