Demolition of the Huber Breaker property leaves the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), city officials, and residents worried about asbestos control and air quality in Ashley, Pennsylvania.
The site is owned by Paselo Logistics LLC, of Philadelphia, who demolished the breaker in spring of 2014, yet never informed the DEP of the construction. Post-demolition resulted in the discovery of asbestos and other garbage littering the property.
Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma cancer and other health problems. More than 40 locations in PA have been identified as asbestos exposure sites. There are also a number of naturally-occurring serpentine deposits near the New Jersey and Maryland state lines.
A smoke stack remains standing on the site, which has caused major concern over the surrounding air quality. A school bus stops right across from the property five days a week. “It’s a shame,” Ashley Council Vice Chair Frank Sorokach said. “What about the kids?”
In fact, it’s been more than a year since the DEP cited Paselo Logistics for leaving the property in such disarray full of tires, debris, and weeds. According to Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Huber Preservation Society, Ray Clarke, the company purchased the site solely for scrap.
“We’ve issued a timeline and it has come and passed,” said Community Relations Coordinator for the DEP, Colleen Connolly. The most recent DEP letter was sent on March 10, 2015 requesting an explanation as to why the asbestos was disturbed and dried out. (This violates the Air Pollution Control Act.)
Even deserted tractor-trailer trucks remain on the site. “It looks like Vietnam,” said Vietnam War veteran Gerry Maldanado. “It’s like they don’t care. Millions wasted with those trucks.”
Northeast Tax Revenue LLC has reported Paselo is delinquent in taxes. $22,719.99 is owed to Ashley, Hanover Area School District, and Luzerne County as of December 28.
Paselo originally bought the previous owner, No. 1 Contracting Corp., and the breaker property for $1.27 million through bankruptcy court.
Before that it was owned by Lucky Strike Coal Co. starting in 1939 during the height of the coal mining business in the Wyoming Valley, producing 7,000 tons of coal. The product was dyed blue and sold as “blue coal.” The breaker closed in 1976.