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Yough trail cleansed of diesel fuel, but smell remains

Saturday, June 01, 2002

By Don Hopey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Cyclists pedaling on the Youghiogheny River Trail in Westmoreland County this weekend will still get a whiff of what's left from a diesel fuel spill that occurred a week ago, but the trail itself is clear.

That's good news for the hundreds of recreational bicyclers who normally use that section of the trail, and for participants and organizers of the "Yough-n-Roll," noncompetitive 15- and 40-mile bike tours that will start in "little" Boston tomorrow. The rides support trail maintenance in Allegheny County

Bob McKinley, Regional Trail Corp. manager, said the state Department of Environmental Protection has cleaned up much of the diesel fuel that was discovered leaking from an abandoned 20,000-gallon storage tank at the former Banning No. 4 mine and coal preparation site, which closed in 1981.

"The worst thing right now is the smell," McKinley said Thursday. "But the trail itself has suffered no damage and none of the fuel found its way into the river."

About 200 gallons of fuel leaked into a tributary of the river. Some found its way into a ditch along about 200 yards of the bike trail, 1 1/2 miles south of West Newton. The trail is part of the Great Allegheny Passage, which runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.

The DEP hired Weavertown Environmental Group, which quickly drained about 18,000 gallons of the fuel and contaminated water from the leaking underground tank and drained a nearby 10,000-gallon tank of kerosene. The contractor also installed a containment dam in the tributary to keep the Youghiogheny clear and dug up contaminated soil on the site.

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