Proceeds from sale of portion of Flight 93 crash site to fund water treatment

An agreement announced by the Department of Environmental Protection, PBS Coal Inc. and the Families of Flight 93 answers the question of how to permanently treat water that is draining from the Flight 93 crash site in Somerset County. PBS Coal will sell the land to the Families of Flight 93 for a price not to exceed the amount DEP determines is needed in a trust to operate the treatment system...

HARRISBURG, PA, March 18, 2008 -- An agreement announced today by the Department of Environmental Protection, PBS Coal Inc. and the Families of Flight 93 answers the question of how to permanently treat water that is draining from the Flight 93 crash site in Somerset County.

PBS Coal will sell the land to the Families of Flight 93 for a price not to exceed the amount DEP determines is needed in a trust to operate the treatment system. DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said the arrangement is necessary to build a memorial to those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and provides a long-term solution to the environmental challenges associated with the site.

"This agreement marks another milestone in our efforts to see that a memorial be built here that recognizes and commemorates the brave sacrifice made on Sept. 11," said McGinty. "In order to make that memorial a reality, though, we have to address the water quality concerns that have developed at the site, and that involved additional measures that wouldn't ordinarily be needed. The agreement we're announcing today ensures that those concerns will be permanently addressed, which is required in order for the National Park Service take ownership of the land."

Part of the Flight 93 crash site includes a reclaimed surface mine with a sediment pond. Seepage developed in and around this pond in 2003 that required treatment in order to protect the environment.

Due to the area's sensitive nature and status, however, PBS could not treat the water as it would normally. Instead, the company pumped groundwater from an adjacent mine pool to lower the water table, which stopped the discharge. Because the work at the off-site location involves considerably more water than would have been necessary to treat on site, the costs are substantially higher. The obligation to meet this expense has been one of the issues delaying sale of the land to the Families of Flight 93 and, eventually, to the National Park Service for construction of the permanent memorial.

The proceeds from the land sale will be put into a trust fund and used to operate and maintain the water pumping and treatment work in perpetuity.

PBS Coals, the Families of Flight 93, local citizens' groups and the National park Service have agreed to work together to form a local entity that will operate and maintain the treatment system after the land sale .

"This is clearly a historic moment in the development of the permanent Flight 93 National Memorial, and it signifies substantial progress toward the families' unqualified commitment to the memorial's formal dedication by the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11," said Patrick White, vice president of the Families of Flight 93.

"The families are especially grateful to Governor Rendell for his support and commitment to this project, as well as Secretary McGinty and her department, which has provided such invaluable assistance through the complex negotiations that cleared the way to make possible this key acquisition," White said.

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