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Protesters Gather As Pump Construction Set To Resume

June 2, 1987

POINT PLEASANT, Pa. (AP) _ A ″human barricade″ of protesters today prevented workers from entering the site of a pumping station designed to draw 95 million gallons of water daily from the Delaware River.

About 150 pump opponents, carrying signs and chanting, gathered in the rain outside the chain-link fence surrounding the construction site as workers prepared to resume building the water diversion pump that has been stalled for three years by legal wrangling.

″We tried to go in but we were stopped by a human barricade,″ said George Fry of Lisbon Contractors, who said he would seek a court injunction to gain access to the site.

He said he was disappointed he couldn’t enter the site in upper Bucks County, about 30 miles northeast of Philadelphia, but added, ″We probably wouldn’t have been able to do too much because it’s raining.″

″The pump will not be built,″ said Larry Schultz. ″We will not stop fighting. This pump will never pump a gallon of water from the Delaware.″

″I live here and I plan to live here a long time,″ said Thomas Alba, who brought his 10-year-old son, Michael, with him. ″What happens here is the future and I want the future to be free of the pump and the river to stay as it is.″

Walt McRee, an organizer for Del-AWARE, the group leading the protest, said opponents believe there should be no construction until an environmental review is completed.

″The pump will cause environmental damage,″ he said. ″It will allow polluted water in the Delaware to be moved to creeks that are not polluted.″

In 1984, bowing to public pressure, Bucks County commissioners closed the site, leaving the $50 million pumping station about 30 percent complete.

But two water authorities in Bucks and Montgomery counties and Philadelphia Electric Co., which needs water to cool its Limerick nuclear power plant, sued, saying the shutdown violated contracts the county had signed.

Bucks County Common Pleas Judge Isaac Garb ordered construction to resume.

The state Department of Environmental Resources has hired a $300-a-day consultant to determine whether to extend permits scheduled to expire June 30.

Colorado State University Professor Henry Caulfield Jr., former executive secretary of the federal Water Resources Council, will study the economic and environmental impact of the project, department officials said.

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