Oliver Morrison talks to the Army Corps of Engineers about one of their lock and dam projects for a story about the Ohio river. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Inside our Newsroom: What it takes to report on health and environment in Allegheny County

A reader emailed me at the end of October asking if I knew what had happened to the water supply in Neville Township. I didn’t. Some reader tips don’t go anywhere but some of my best stories start with readers. So I emailed the Department of Environmental Protection’s regional information officer to see what she knew about why Neville residents were told not to consume the water for days. I received a quick response: The state agency had to do emergency testing for PFAS chemicals because a firefighting foam containing the toxics had discharged into the drinking water source.

Mayor Peduto took time on Wednesday to talk about how to move forward politically after being criticized by some for coming out against further petrochemical developments in Western Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Shunned and praised: Peduto reflects on his ‘in the moment’ remarks against petrochemical expansion

Even though he didn’t realize his remarks would spark such an intense reaction, Peduto is adamant that he did the right thing and has begun to put together a plan for how to move forward. He has been meeting with leaders who were upset by his stance and is hoping to work with them to convene a forum where advocates for the petrochemical industry can sit down with other stakeholders in the city and region.

Neville Island residents could have been drinking PFAS-contaminated water for a month, township officials say

The township engineer said workers discovered the possible contamination during a monthly meter reading on Oct. 22 and it was impossible to say at what point, over the previous month, the contamination might have occurred. It could’ve happened all at once, the day before the testing, he said, or "it could’ve come out very slowly over a period of 30 days. We really can’t answer that."

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill Peduto doubled down on his support of investing in green energy jobs and environmental cleanup, rather than fracking and plastics.

Peduto speaks out publicly for the first time against a petrochemical expansion in Western Pennsylvania

Local environmental groups have lobbied Peduto to speak out publicly against the petrochemical buildout in the region, including the Shell ethane cracker plant under construction in Beaver County, but he said in the past that the Shell cracker decision is not under his jurisdiction and he cannot speak for the elected officials and residents of Beaver County. Recently, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported that ExxonMobil is looking for land to potentially build a cracker plant in Beaver County.