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MCCONNELL'S MILL Deadline to appeal permit is 30 days



Published: Sat, September 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The permit allows initial mining operations within 1,000 feet of the park.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Opponents of the state's decision to issue a surface mining permit for property adjacent to McConnell's Mill State Park have 30 days to appeal.

The permit was issued Monday, and two local environmental protection groups that had actively opposed the permit could take the issue before the state's Environmental Hearing Board.

Nancy Bergey of Friends of McConnell's Mill said her group hasn't decided what action it will take. She added, however, it would stand behind any appeal of the issuance of the permit.

An appeal would more likely be initiated through Slippery Rock Stream Keepers, she said. The chairman of that group couldn't be reached to comment Friday.

The quest by Quality Aggregates of Neville Island, Pa., to secure a permit to take limestone and coal from the area designed as Myers Mine in Lawrence County, adjacent to McConnell's Mill, has been ongoing for about two years.

Changes in plans

The state Department of Environmental Protection finally issued the permit, but it forced the company to change some of its plans to protect the nearby park, said Karl Lasher, DEP spokesman.

Among other things, Quality Aggregates will be banned from mining or blasting within 1,000 feet of the park grounds during what DEP said will be a first phase of mining.

Further, blasting may be done only between sunrise and 10 a.m. and is banned weekends and holidays

Blasting on any exposed mine highwall facing the park is banned, and the company must take measures to control dust and ground vibrations, which will require scaling down the scope of blasting, Lasher said.

It will take between two and five years to complete the first phase of mining. Quality Aggregates can then apply to the state for revisions of its permit that would allow mining and blasting within 500 feet of the park, he said.

The permit allows the removal of 89.9 acres of coal and 141 acres of limestone, but Lasher said much of that is the same ground with the coal seam found atop the limestone.

'Disappointed'

"That is not something that we wanted," Bergey said of the permit issuance. "We are disappointed to say the least, very disappointed."

She said Quality Aggregates already is mining in the same general area and has created large piles of earth and "fugitive dust" that blows from the mining site onto surrounding property.

She said her group brought those concerns to the state's attention in an attempt to get the permit denied.

gwin@vindy.com




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