A $2.4 million project has been announced in Pennsylvania to clean up contaminated sludge at the site of a company that treated wastewater from coal mines and oil and gas drilling.

Tunnelton Liquids Company (TLC) in Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, ceased operations in April 2014, leaving behind untreated water and Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) in a holding pond.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
said it was concerned that, without action, this could overflow into the Conemaugh River. The DEP pointed out that water quality in the river, which flows adjacent to the TLC property, has improved in recent years thanks to efforts to treat sources of acid mine drainage.

Under the plan announced by the DEP on Wednesday, contractor URS Corporation will remove 3.2 million gallons of untreated water and approximately 12,000 cubic yards of sludge.

The wastewater will be treated and the sludge will be disposed of in approved landfills in Pennsylvania, DEP spokesman John Poister told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, adding that no contaminated material has entered the Conemaugh River so far.

After all water and sludge is removed from the pond, samples of the underlying soil will be taken to verify that state cleanup standards have been met.

Funding for this project has come from the state's Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund. It's not yet clear whether the DEP will pursue the former owner of TLC to recover some of the costs.