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Groups file appeal to block mining

| Saturday, Oct. 26, 2002

Several environmental groups have filed an appeal to stop a Neville Island-based company from mining near McConnell's Mill.

Stanley Stein, an attorney representing several individuals and the Slippery Rock Stream Keepers, The League of Women Voters of Lawrence County, Bartramian Audubon Society and Friends of McConnell's Mill State Park, said the appeal should have arrived at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Hearing Board on Friday.

The group's appeal contains 33 specific objections to the mining plan. Quality Aggregates plans to mine limestone near the park.

"We have problems with the erosion and sediment controls, the effects on air quality, dust and noise from the blasting operations, effects on the groundwater and vibrations as it relates to the park and the watershed," Bruce Hazen, president of Slippery Rock Stream Keepers, said. "We think the company did not meet the criteria for the DEP to grant the permit."

The Department of Environmental Protection granted a mining permit to Quality Aggregates in September.

Stein said it could take six months before the case gets before the Environmental Hearing Board. In the meantime, Quality Aggregates will be able to continue mining activity at the Myers mine.

The mining might begin soon, said Jeff Ankrom, vice president of environmental operations for Quality Aggregates. The mining will be done primarily in a spot about 1,550 feet west of Rim Road and about 1,000 feet east of Mt. Hope Furnace Road. The mine's haul road will be 1,000 feet long and will intersect with Mt. Hope Furnace Road. The site is in Lawrence County.

The company plans to surface mine 89.9 acres of coal to access 141 acres of limestone.

The permit will allow mining no closer than 1,000 feet from the park for the first two years.

Department of Environmental Protection officials said they have gone to great lengths to ensure the park will not be damaged by any side effects of the mining.

Lori Odenthal, chief of the Knox District Mining Office of the DEP, said Quality Aggregates officials met the requirements to get the permit.

In two years, Quality Aggregates can apply to have its permit revised to allow blasting no closer than 500 feet from the park. If Quality Aggregates wants to revise its permit, the company will have to go through another public review and comment period.

The company plans to use explosives to blast limestone so it can be transported and processed.

Ankrom said the company's permit for the Myers mine was the company's most expensive. He said it cost the company slightly less than $300,000 to get the permit.

Odenthal said the permits she is familiar with usually cost between $25,000 and $50,000.

"The state would not issue the permit if we did not meet the regulations," Ankrom said. "We have done our job and taken the extra precautions knowing it is a sensitive area. We feel very confident about what we are doing."

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