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PennFuture Claims Victory in Stopping Sechan Landfill; Project Owner Calls it Quits, Ending Danger to Slippery Rock Creek and McConnell's Mills State Park.

PITTSBURGH -- Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) today claimed a victory for park lovers in Pennsylvania and beyond when Sechan Landfill Industries, Inc. withdrew litigation to obtain a landfill permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Friends of McConnell's Mill ("Friends"), a local citizens group that has fought to promote and protect the integrity of McConnell's Mills State Park in Butler and Lawrence Counties, sought PennFuture's help in opposing the permitting of an industrial waste landfill adjacent to the park. After the DEP denied Sechan's application under its "harms/benefits" regulations, Sechan had filed an appeal of that action to the state Environmental Hearing Board. PennFuture intervened in that action on behalf of Friends.

"We think it important to applaud the DEP's initial decision, which recognized that there is no reason to locate a landfill next to a jewel like McConnell's Mill State Park," said George Jugovic, Jr., Chair of PennFuture's law staff and lead attorney on the case. "There are too few of these special areas left. The people of Pennsylvania place a high value on protecting our natural areas, which provide hours of enjoyment and respite from their daily lives. In addition, stopping the landfill is also good for the local economy, since it will protect the area's tourist industry and local citizens' property values."

PennFuture represented Friends of McConnell's Mill, who opposed construction of a proposed residual waste landfill within 1,000 feet of McConnell's Mill State Park, in Butler and Lawrence Counties by Sechan Limestone Industries, Inc. Sechan had a sordid history related to the unlawful disposal of hazardous waste at a facility located near where the company wanted to develop the proposed residual waste landfill.

The permit for the landfill was denied by DEP under the "harms benefits regulation" which requires that no permits be issued unless the social and economic benefits outweigh harms. In the Sechan case, experts provided by PennFuture presented opinions to DEP during the permit process that the proposed landfill would create a risk of harm to the water quality of Slippery Rock Creek, a cold water fishery and drinking water supply to 40,000 people; that noise and air pollution would harm park users; that the landfill would cause significant aesthetic harm; that traffic would adversely effect the area and that property values would likely be lowered by the landfill. Further, the experts agreed that Sechan's application overstated the projects environmental benefits.

Sechan's withdrawal of its appeal terminates the challenge to the Department's decision. "Everyone who visits the park this Fourth of July will now know that their children will be able to enjoy many future picnics at McConnell's Mill State Park," said Jugovic.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and a newly opened Center for Energy, Enterprise and the Environment in West Chester. PennFuture has been called "Pennsylvania's leading environmental organization" by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jun 29, 2006
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