Community voices concerns over debris removal from Solomon Creek

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Dirt and debris from the removal project is being left on community streets

HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Questions and concerns are being raised by many people living in the Nanticoke and Hanover Township areas of Luzerne County; it has to do with a dirt and debris trail that stretches for miles.

The trail has an orange color to it and people want to known where it came from and could it possibly be contaminated.

PennDOT was working an emergency flood protection project at Solomon Creek near the San Souci Parkway in Hanover Township. Basically removing debris to help prevent flooding. Some of the sediment from the creek was spilled along roads.

That has many asking: Does that sediment pose a health hazard to people?

Workers using heavy equipment removed debris and sediment from Solomon Creek in Hanover Township Wednesday. It’s all part of an effort to reduce flooding during heavy rains like we saw with the remnants of Hurricane Ida two weeks ago.

The debris is loaded into PennDOT trucks and taken to a composting site on the earth conservancy land about five miles away, but orange-colored dirt and sediment spilled along the roads leading to the dumping site.

“It was a police officer of ours actually notified me. He was concerned about storm water regulations. He followed the trucks which he believed to be a PennDOT truck. We did verify it was. Especially when they were going up West Main Street. It was really coming out of the back of their trucks,” said interim Nanticoke City Manager Donna Wall.

Wall says the city received complaints from residents.

“The citizens were concerned if the run-off from the vehicles had any contamination in it from the dredging of the Solomon Creek,” said Wall.

Hanover Township Manager Sam Guesto tells the I-Team they too received calls from residents expressing concerns.

“I don’t know what could be in that type of sediment. There are two open bore holes upstream. I don’t know what comes out of that as far as any type of contamination,” said Guesto.

PennDOT says this work is part of an emergency project to clear debris from Solomon Creek to help prevent future flooding.

“Hopefully this has a huge impact on future flooding. Every time it rains, we always fear the roadway is going to get flooded. Last time we had Solomon Creek come out of its banks because debris that was in the creek,” Hanover Township Fire Department Chief Joe Temarantz said.

A PennDOT spokesperson issued a statement to the I-Team regarding contamination concerns:

“PennDOT does not have any contamination concerns. The tinted color water is naturally occurring in the stream. We have crews heading out to clean the roadway surfaces today. We are in the final phases of our clean-up resulting from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

As you know Luzerne County had the most issues in our district encompassing Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wyoming and Wayne Counties.

Also regarding the colored water: This occurs naturally in streams or seeps fed by groundwater. It is not harmful to humans or aquatic organisms. Iron in soil comes in contact with iron-oxidizing bacteria and produces this rusty looking slime.”

Jessica Ruddy, Communications Relations Coordinator, PennDOT

PennDOT will be sending street sweepers to the area to clean up the dirt and sediment.

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