2012-10-24 / Local & State

Judge: No Mining Rights Below Flight 93 Memorial

PITTSBURGH (AP) – A federal judge has sided with the U.S. government in ruling that a company does not have the right to mine coal beneath the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The Johnstown Tribune Democrat says U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose last week said Svonavec Inc. of Somerset failed to demonstrate that it had the right to mine under the memorial site at the time the land was taken through the eminent domain process.

“I find that the record evidence is insufficient to establish that, at the time of the taking on Sept. 2, 2009, defendant Svonavec possessed the right to mine coal underlying any part of the subject property other than the eight acres previously identified by the parties,” Ambrose said in the order issued Tuesday. The company owned about 276 acres taken by the government through eminent domain, including six acres where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A company spokesman declined comment Friday. A representative of the Families of Flight 93, Lisa Linden of the public relations firm Linden Alschuler & Kaplan Inc. of New York, called it “a critical issue” and expressed the hope that the matter would be concluded soon.

United Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was diverted by hijackers with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol. The official 9/11 Commission report concluded that the hijackers crashed the plane as passengers tried to wrest control of the cockpit. All 33 passengers and seven crew members died.

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