PPG Industries Reaches Settlement in Lawsuit Over ‘Glass Dump’

PPG Industries Inc., a chemical manufacturing company, reached a settlement regarding Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act allegations in a 2012 complaint filed by the Sierra Club and PennEnvironment. The company agreed to acquire permits and provide treatment to the water near its waste site, known as the “PPG glass dump,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

According to a news release Monday from PennEnvironment, PPG industries allegedly was illegally polluting the grounds around its Ford City waste site for decades, causing pollution in the Allegheny River and neighboring lagoons. The defendant reportedly put waste into the lagoons between 1950 and 1970 and raised dike walls to allow for additional waste after the lagoons were filled. 

“Today’s announcement is a huge victory for the Allegheny River and all the people who love this iconic western Pennsylvania river. … As one of the ‘Three Rivers’ that have become synonymous with Pittsburgh, today’s action will help ensure a healthier Allegheny River for our children and future generations to enjoy.” PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur said in the release.  

According to the plaintiffs, PPG’s site contains significant levels of heavy metals, and the court already determined that the discharges “present an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment.” Although the settlement applies to many of the allegations against PPG, the amount of civil penalties the company will pay has not yet been determined. 

Under the settlement, PPG reportedly will obtain Clean Water Act permits, install and maintain a treating system, place coverings over solid waste, give funds to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that the cleanup operations continue, and give $250,000 to the Stroud Water Research Center to be used for researching wetlands and mollusks. 

“This outcome is the culmination of years of tenacious work by citizens and attorneys who would not let harmful pollution go unchallenged,” Tom Au, conservation chair of Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter, said in the release. “We now have a mechanism to monitor and treat the alkaline discharges from the old landfill.”

The Associated Press reported that PPG previously agreed to a settlement with the state that included some water treatment and a $1.2 million fine, but the plaintiffs in this lawsuit purported that the treatment requirements in that settlement were “too weak.” 

The plaintiffs are represented by Terris, Pravlik & Millian LLP.