The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 7, 2012

Drilling water plant moves ahead

Randy Griffith

JOHNSTOWN — Site work is under way along Iron Street for a demonstration plant to be built as the first step toward development of an industrial wastewater treatment facility with a potential employment in the hundreds.

Johnstown Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday outlined plans to improve Iron Street within the former Bethlehem Steel/Cambria Iron Works plant property to open the area for Aspen Johnstown LLC’s planned facility.

Aspen is targeting contaminated water that is a byproduct of the burgeoning Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry.  

The $2.4 million in road, drainage and safety improvements is being funded by a public-private partnership of state, federal and redevelopment authority funds, authority Chairman Monsignor Raymond Balta said during a public hearing on the project.

Half of the money comes from a $1.2 million grant by the federal Economic Development Administration.

Street improvements will renovate the section of Iron Street between the former Bethlehem guardhouses. That section is not technically a public street, but is owned by the redevelopment authority.

Along with the authority-supported reconstruction of the nearby Fourth Avenue/Minersville bridge, road improvements should spur additional development at the Rosedale Business Park that extends up the hillside to a plateau above the former Bethlehem plant site.

 Aspen is a locally based venture now based in former SS. Casimir & Emerich Church rectory at 501 Power St.

Aspen officials have proposed a treatment facility that will purify drilling water by removing both contaminants and salt, making it drinkable. Solids removed will be safe for landfills, with some products having commercial value.

The completed plant is planned for 50 acres of authority-owned land above Iron Street, which is known as the Rosedale Tract and Lower Ore Yard.

But a smaller pilot plant is about to be built just off Iron Street. Asphalt roadways are under construction to provide access across railroad tracks.

“The pilot plant should be in operation within a few months,” Balta said. “They have to be able to show (the drilling companies) that the process actually works.”

About 30 people attended Wednesday’s public hearing, including neighbors and local business representatives.

A few questions from the audience focused on traffic issues along Iron Street and Fourth Avenue.

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