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Pennsylvania DEP investigating oil on Monongahela River near McKeesport

Pennsylvania DEP investigating oil slicks on Monongahela River near McKeesport
Pennsylvania DEP investigating oil slicks on Monongahela River near McKeesport 02:18

MCKEESPORT, Pa. (KDKA) -- There is oil in the Monongahela River, and apparently, these slicks are an ongoing problem.

Since May of 2022, the Three Rivers Waterkeepers, a scientific and legal advocacy group, has been reporting intermittent oil spills on the Monongahela River near McKeesport. They say these slicks are emanating from mile marker 18 on the river and then flowing downstream.

"Around mile marker 18 is a really prominent industry, commonly called U.S. Steel Irvin Works department. Typically we have been able to find the oil-like substance in and around their outfalls in that region and there's no other industry that we can find that would most likely discharge that type of product into our waterways," said Dr. Heather Hulton VanTassel, the executive director of Three Rivers Waterkeeper. 

In a statement released earlier today to KDKA, U.S. Steel said, "Our Mon Valley Works facilities are currently operating normally with no upset conditions. We will work with relevant agencies as appropriate. We will continue to monitor our operations and the water conditions around our facilities.  Environmental performance remains one of our top priorities."

Other groups investigating Friday were the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as well as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, who said they have confirmed that a petroleum substance is leaking into the water from an unknown source and an investigation is ongoing with multiple agencies.

The Fish and Boat Commission also went on to say that anyone who may have direct contact with the water like a kayaker or paddle boarder should be aware that these slicks are present. The good news is, however, that wildlife doesn't appear to be affected as of yet.

For VanTassel and her organization though, she is hoping that by raising awareness about this pollution, something can be done.

"We really want to work with our regulators and make sure that our polluters are held accountable," VanTassel said.

"I don't believe that the Mon Valley deserves to have continual pollution in their water as we move forward. It needs to stop," she said.

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