‘It’s concerning’: Springdale smokestack implosion leaves behind dust, soot a week later

SPRINGDALE, Pa. — One week since the old smokestacks came down in Springdale, there’s still dust. One woman we spoke with says even though it might not look like much it’s concerning.

“The whole yard across the street was just covered in that brown soot,” said Susan Mangel.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE >> Smokestacks at former Cheswick Power Plant site demolished in planned implosion

Susan Mangel lives across the street from the old Cheswick Power Plant and was home during last week’s implosion.

“This big brown dust bomb just came right up the street,” said Mangel. “It took over everything. They should have been prepared for it. I don’t think they really thought this through, or they were prepared for what was going to happen. They say it was fine. But it wasn’t fine.”

Charah Solutions, who now owns the site, says it has received more than 100 complaints for property damage but mostly from appliances shorted by an electrical surge. One of these complaints came from Mock Dentistry on Pittsburgh Street.

“We’ve had an electrician come through,” said Dr. Max Mock. “We’ve had the PA DEP come through. We have hired roofers that have come up. We have had a conglomerate of people that have come up who have tried to coordinate cleaning and fix everything up in the area. So far everything seems good. We’ll see how far it carries out and everything. I’ve been happy with what the company has been putting out there and trying to help with.”

Charah Solutions says crews have been out cleaning every day since the implosion. But still, the dust and even fiberglass lingers.

“There was dust all over our window seals so it’s definitely still prevalent,” said Mock. “I know they were hoping for rainwater, but here we are.”

State Representative Mandy Steele called on the DEP to test it.

“Under the Waste Management Act, the demolition company is responsible for any violation that occurred,” said Mandy Steele. “Solid waste deposit on people’s properties is a violation. DEP is on site to test that waste and make sure it is safe.”

Channel 11 reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Their spokesperson said the following:

DEP regulates blasting and explosives used in demolitions and had issued a blasting activity permit to Controlled Demolition Inc. for the explosive demolition of structures at the former Cheswick Generating Station. Immediately following the demolition, DEP began visiting with residents to survey damage from flyrock and debris launched during the demolition which is a violation of Pennsylvania environmental regulations. As DEP actively conducts its investigation, the Department has also taken samples of dust from the demolition and is awaiting the results. Under blasting and solid waste laws and regulations, DEP has the authority to take action against this operator, and DEP is committed to ensuring that any violations are addressed.

Additionally, DEP staff has been on site conducting tests to ensure the safety of the residents of Springdale. Since Wednesday, DEP’s Waste staff obtained 4 samples of dust, and today the Office of Chief Counsel’s Bureau of Investigations is on site gathering 10 additional samples.

Air quality issues associated with the demolition and the resulting dust cloud have been referred to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) which has jurisdiction over air quality matters at this site; DEP has contacted the ACHD & has been advised that asbestos abatement took place prior to demolition.

The Allegheny County Health Department shared records that show asbestos was removed from the site before demolition. The department says seven inspections were conducted between September 2022 and March 2023.

Steele says she understands the concerns that are circulating throughout the community.

“The towers fell as planned, but what they did not account for was the cap flying off one of the towers, which released the blast of air that caused damage to the fence, powerlines and worsened the dust,” said Steele. “As a mother of four little kids who have just begun their summer, parents are worried that their kids are playing in unsafe conditions. There is still dust in people’s yards and at their homes, and we have to make sure that that dust is safe and cleaned up properly.”

“The dogs are walking out there,” said Mangel. “The kids are playing there. That stuff flies through the air. It’s concerning. "

This isn’t the only implosion planned for the old Cheswick Power Plant. The next one is expected to happen in late August or September.

“The next step is to bring the building down,” said Steele. “There are decades of accumulated coal dust in that building, and we will ensure that it is done in a safe and respectful manner for this community.”

Charah Solutions Vice President of Operations Scott Reschly says they’re really appreciative of the community and their response to this and they’re making sure they’re out there to ensure they get everything back to normal.

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