DEP Secretary Recognizes Earth Conservancy with 2007 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award

HANOVER TOWNSHIP — Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty visited the former Cleveland Landfill today to honor Earth Conservancy’s efforts to transform the site into a swath of open space that adds to the quality of life in the Wyoming Valley and offers the potential for new economic opportunities.

“More than 30 years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes, this site was opened to people as an easy way of disposing flood-damaged materials,” said McGinty. “But that approach, as beneficial as it may have been at the time, has led to environmental challenges today but Earth Conservancy stepped up to offer a solution.

“We’re presenting this award today because Earth Conservancy saw an opportunity and took the necessary steps to make it a reality.

“That approach epitomizes the Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence—turning environmental challenges into opportunities for stronger economies and cleaner communities.”

Following the massive floods along the Susquehanna River that were associated with Hurricane Agnes in 1972, Cleveland Landfill—or the “Hanover 7a” site—was a designated site where residents could dump flood-damaged household items. At the time, the site was owned by the Blue Coal Company, but after the firm declared bankruptcy in the ‘70s the land remained dormant for the next 20 years.

The landfill stopped being used as a dump site in 1983, but it was never closed or properly capped.

In 1994, Earth Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to reclaiming and re-using former coal company land in Luzerne County, purchased 16,300 acres from the Blue Coal Corporation estate, of which the 50-acre Cleveland Landfill was included.

Thirty-eight acres at the site were used as a landfill and were filled to varying depths.

Reclamation work at the site included clearing and grubbing, capping the entire area with fly ash and constructing a 24-inch cap that consists of an 18-inch layer of mixed rock and soil. The entire site was then topped with a six-inch layer of topsoil.

The project used more than 250,000 cubic yards of fly ash and more than 65,000 cubic yards of topsoil. The reclamation project graded and re-contoured the site to minimize infiltration of surface water into the abandoned underground mine workings to reduce recharge to the mine pool and associated acid mine drainage.

Earth Conservancy currently has a developer for the site that is proposing a commercial development that will create new economic opportunities, enhance the adjacent business park and add to the quality of life in the region.

The Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence honors Pennsylvania businesses and organizations that undertake projects that tackle environmental problems, help build new businesses, enhance the bottom line and engage residents in a renewed commitment to investing in communities.

“From innovations in clean energy to educating our youth on environmental matters, each of this year’s winners is making an invaluable contribution that will protect public health and safety, stimulate economic growth and improve the health of Pennsylvania’s environment,” said McGinty.

DEP received 45 applications for the 2007 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, which were evaluated according to overall environmental benefit, public service, economic impact, use of innovative technology, teamwork and environmental education and outreach.

To view a detailed summary of the 12 winning projects, visit the DEP Web site and click on “2007 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.”
Applications are now available for the 2008 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The award is open to any Pennsylvania business, government agency, educational institution, nonprofit organization, individual or farm that has created or helped to develop a project that promotes environmental stewardship and economic development in the state.

The deadline to submit projects for the 2008 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence is Oct. 15. To download an application, visit here and click on “2008 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.”

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