Cleanup at asphalt spill site progressing slowly, and by hand

Removing hardened asphalt from a stream bed is a slow process.

A six-man team from EAP of Atlasburg, Pa., is working at the mouth of a small drainage stream, where it meets the Allegheny River.

The asphalt was spilled on Monday from a tanker truck owned by Vestal Asphalt, of Vestal, N.Y., after an accident on Route 59, just west of the Kinzua Dam.

With shovels, spud bars and their hands, the crew peels the black substance from the rocks and places it in garbage bags.

One worker then hauls the bag to the top of the bank and another piles it on a large plastic tarp in a staging area.

Larry Osten, who works from the company’s Titusville office, said, “It’s still rubbery, but it comes right up.”

Before the crew could begin, they placed two six-inch plastic pipes in the stream above Route 59 to divert the water to another drainage.

Osten said for the time being, the work is all by hand. He expects at some point to bring in equipment to help with removing the asphalt.

That, he said, is dependent on approval from government agencies.

“When government agencies give us the go-ahead, we’ll go ahead,” he said.

Kathy Mohney, executive assistant to the Allegheny National Forest supervisor, said, “Our involvement at the clean-up site has included laying out the corridor near the spill site for the contracted clean-up crew, and surveying the area for resource impacts should larger equipment be necessary. The party responsible for the accident is also responsible for contracting the clean-up crew so we are not involved in that aspect, although both DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection), as the regulatory agency, and the ANF, as the landowner, regulations must be followed by the contractors.”

Friday afternoon, a state police spokesperson said there was no new information as to the cause of the accident.