Company Plans to Clean Up Lackawanna River

A group of scientists and investors said they have the technology to remove 50 years of mining pollution from the Lackawanna River. Thursday they broke ground on a project to start doing just that.

A great deal of the polluted water that ends up in the Chesapeake bay starts from a bore hole in Old Forge that releases a few tons worth of mine water into the Lackawanna River each day. It’s plagued the river and Northeastern Pennsylvania for more than 50 years.

But, scientists from a corporation, Susquehanna Mining Solutions, said they have a plan to clean it up.

“It’s been the largest, most visible, point source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed for 50 years. I’m thrilled that we are finally bringing a critical mass together to initiate the clean up effort,” said Bernard McGurl of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association.

At a groundbreaking ceremony, officials from SMS and local politicians talked about plans to build a treatment plant that would take the iron waste out of the mine water. Plans are to build the plant on the site of an old colliery and coal breaker near Old Forge.

“The science is there, the science finally caught up. And now we are solving some of our longest standing environmental problems,” said Sen. John Yudichack who represents the 15th Senate District in Luzerne County.

“We haven’t been dealing with it, we’ve been living with it. Nobody’s been dealing with it, this is the first project that’s going to deal with the problem,” said Charles Medico, who heads up SMS.

The proposed water treatment plant would sit right on the Lackawanna-Luzerne County line, which is fitting because that’s where the river changes. The Lackawanna County side is clear, while the bed of the river in Luzerne County has turned orange due to years of pollution.

Carl Agostini and his neighbors are thrilled at the prospect of a clear river again.

“That’ll be great, it will be beautiful, that way I can see it before I go to heaven,” Agostini said.

Officials from SMS said once the treatment plant is up and running, the river water could be clean again in 5 to 7 years.

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