Family files lawsuit against Lower Burrell for water contamination

by. R. A. Monti, originally published on March 29, 2016


A Lower Burrell family claims the city’s 2013 $2 million project to extend sewer lines to about 125 homes between routes 780 and 56 contaminated drinking water at their home.

Leonard and Tammie Yohe claim in a lawsuit filed Thursday that when the Yohes’ Wildlife Lodge Road property was excavated for the new sewer lines, a well that had supplied the family with water for more than 30 years became contaminated.

The Yohes are suing the city, the city’s engineering firm, Alpha Engineering, and Penn Hills contractor W.A. Petrakis Contracting Co.

Tony Males, owner of Alpha Engineering, in Lower Burrell, declined to comment on the suit.

Lawyers for the Yohes and the city did not return calls for comment nor did anyone with W.A. Petrakis.

According to the suit, the Yohes’ water began to smell of sulphur after crews dug on their land.

The Yohes claim they never had a problem with their water prior to the work and that when crews dug on their property, they partially removed a seam of coal, causing the water to flow through the remaining coal and become contaminated.

The suit says that in August 2015, the Yohes had the water tested by the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP found high levels of manganese and sulfates, making the water undrinkable.

The suit claims the sewer project caused a pond on the Yohes’ property to become contaminated.

The pond, according to the suit, is covered in algae, which the Yohes say never happened before. The Yohes claim fish in the pond and trees around the pond are dying and the pond’s water level is dropping.

The suit claims that the defendants trespassed on the Yohes’ land, negligently worked there and the project is a continuing nuisance.

According to the suit, members of the Yohe family have resided on the twelve-acre property for more than 80 years.

The suit does not state the amount of money the Yohes are seeking in damages because, according to the suit, the family wants to pass the land on to their children.

“The property has an importance to the plaintiffs that cannot be limited to or assigned a mere monetary value,” the suit claims.

The Yohes filed for a temporary injunction, asking the defendants to pay for clean water for the family until their well can be restored.

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