You are here

Coalition Letter Which Requests That Governor Cuomo Prohibit Issuance of State Permits/Authorizations for Salt Mining Under Cayuga Lake and Require a Transition to Salt Mining Only Under Dry Land

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Re: Request That You Prohibit State Permits/Authorizations for Salt Mining Under Cayuga Lake and Require a Transition to Salt Mining Only Under Dry Land

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We, the undersigned, write to request that you deny a Cargill Mine Shaft #4 permit application under consideration by your Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in order to safeguard Cayuga Lake from potential catastrophic salt mine failures similar to the 1994 collapse of the nation's biggest salt mine in Retsof, NY.

Given the inability of DEC's Division of Mineral Resources to prevent or remediate numerous documented salt mining disasters across New York, we request that you adopt a prohibition on issuing new permits, approvals or authorizations that would directly or indirectly lead to salt mining activities under Cayuga Lake.

We also request that you implement a proposal voiced by DEC to require Cargill to transition to salt mining only under dry land.

Retsof Mine Disaster

The Retsof mine failure was likely the worst salt mining catastrophe in the history of New York. Massive sink holes and land subsidence occurred. Property damage was extensive. The mine flooded and impacted water wells used by local residents. The consequences of this mine failure will be felt for centuries to come.

We write today because serious concerns have been raised about parallels between the Retsof mine and the immense Cargill salt mine located under Cayuga Lake. One key question is whether relatively new "small pillar" mining techniques used at the two mines could be insufficient to resist powerful geologic forces associated with filled-in glacial valley formations at both locations.

See map: Cargill Cayuga Mine

Professor Richard Young Technical Presentation

Provided for your review are technical presentations made to DEC by Richard A. Young, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Geological Sciences Department at SUNY Geneseo and a geological consultant for the Office of the New York State Attorney General regarding the Retsof mine collapse.

See: Professor Richard Young Cayuga Mine Presentations and References

Professor Young's technical presentations raise profound questions about the wisdom of allowing future salt mining under Cayuga Lake. In the event of a mining disaster at the Cargill Mine similar to the Retsof collapse, the pollution impacts on Cayuga Lake could be unprecedented and irreversible.

Request for Urgent Regulatory Action

We request that you require DEC to deny the Shaft #4 permit application based on the new geologic information presented to DEC by Professor Young as well as numerous other experts in the field.

We also request that you require DEC to implement a policy to require Cargill to phase out its salt mining activities under Cayuga Lake and to allow salt mining only under more geologically stable dry lands surrounding the lake. There must be no connection between new mining areas and the existing Cargill mine under the lake.

This sensible plan could preserve the economic benefits of local salt mining while safeguarding Cayuga Lake from potentially catastrophic mining hazards. More than 30,000 residents drink water supplied from this lake. It is an incomparable jewel as well as a critical component of the regional economy.

The logic of this policy is irrefutable because it is our understanding that Mr. Matthew J. Podniesinski, Director, Bureau of Resource Development & Reclamation, Division of Mineral Resources, recently stated that he had communicated to Cargill officials that the firm should begin making arrangements with local property owners to mine under dry land around Cayuga Lake instead of directly underneath the lake.

This proposed policy should be mandatory because DEC has documented widespread salt mining concerns across Upstate New York, including massive landslides, ground subsidence and environmental pollution hazards.


Our Request Echoes a Letter from NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair, Steven Englebright

As you will see, our letter echoes concerns and requests expressed in a letter sent to DEC Commissioner, Basil Seggos, by NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair, Steven Englebright.

See: New York State Assembly Members Lifton and Englebright Request Moratorium for Cargill Shaft #4 permit and Authorizations for Salt Mining Under Cayuga Lake

Once-In-A-Generation Opportunity to Safeguard Cayuga Lake

You have a once-in-a generation opportunity to safeguard Cayuga Lake from potential mining disaster. Due to federal mine safety requirements, Shaft #4 is needed to expand the Cargill mine. If the Shaft #4 permit is not granted, salt mining under the lake could be phased out in orderly fashion over perhaps as long as a decade in order to transition to mining under dry land surrounding the lake.

"Incalculable Value of Cayuga Lake"

DEC Commissioner Seggos recently wrote that he shares public concerns about the "incalculable value of Cayuga Lake." He added, "Whether we are discussing the Lake's pristine beauty, its economic importance, or its environmental significance, everyone at DEC understands that our mission is to protect these natural resources."

We underscore that your administration bears sole responsibility for deciding the Shaft #4 permit application as well as granting mineral rights underneath Cayuga Lake. We trust that your final decision will fully protect this incomparable lake.

In conclusion, you received well-deserved nationwide praise when you demonstrated great wisdom by prohibiting high-volume hydrofracking in New York. We request that you apply the same level of precaution to protecting Cayuga Lake from potentially devastating salt mining hazards.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very best regards,

Total Signatory Count: 1144

Diane Casner
154a 23rd street
Brooklyn, NY
Stephen Coleman
PO BoX 1804
Auburn, New York
Rev. Nancy Lane, Ph.D.
Bower Rd
Elmira, NY
Marco Volpitta
Local Coordinator
Extinction Rebellion
18 Threshing Rock Rd
Pound Ridge, New York
Kellie Lamoreau
364 Lafayette Rd
Groton, NY
Dawn Noble
40 Linn Ave
Auburn, NY
Adam Singer
Bay Area Comms-Team
Sunrise Movement
3588 Agate Drive
Santa Clara, CA
Christopher Mack
100 South St.
Auburn, New York
Jeannette Polowski
62 Crown Hill Road
Wappingers Falls , NY
Edward Kokkelenberg
Emeritus Professor
103 Stoutenburgh Lane
Pittsford, NY
barbara striley
2088 rte 26, 16b
endicott, New York
Carrie Koplinka-Loehr
118 Ross Road
Lansing, NY
Don Carpenter
Carpenter Consulting Group
17 Industrial Street
Rochester, NY
Dolores Rothwell
82 Dietz Street
Oneonta, NY
george helfman
7546 county road 153
interlaken, NY
Peter Gottschalk
3305 Walnut Pl. NW, United States
Salem, OR
robert seeley
85 stark rd
newfield, new york
Phillip Josselyn
940 Amsterdam Ave Apt 1
New York, NY
Dan Casner
33 Belair Rd
Staten Island, New York
Monica Wey
380 McGuinness Boulevard
Brooklyn, New York
Jan Quarles
7342 Wyers Point Rd
Ovid , NY
Andrew Sussman
1 Orchard Drive
South Salem, NY
Lisa Lahey
2444 Salt Point Tpke
Clinton Corners, NY
Ferenc Bozso
31 Picketts Ridge Road
Redding, Connecticut
Terry Michel
PO Box 225
Aurora, NY 13026
Matthew McCarty
1420 Ellis Hollow Rd
Ithaca, NY
Corinna Loeckenhoff
404 Winthrop Drive
Ithaca, NY
Geneva Lee
614 Stewart Ave
Ithaca, New York
Meghan Kennedy
27 Fairway Drive
Ithaca, NY
Stephanie Behler
476 Van Ostrand Rd
Groton, NY
Yvonne Taylor
Vice President
Seneca Lake Guardian
PO Box 776
Burdett , NY
Susan Mead
219 W. Lincoln St.
Ithaca, NY
Deborah Sarkus
10 Bill George Rd
Lansing, NY
Peter Sarkus
10 Bill George Rd
Lansing, NY
Peter Bardaglio
Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
9748 Arden Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
Cedric Mason
503 N Albany St.
Ithaca, NY
Regi Teasley
201 Cliff Park Rd
Ithaca, NY
Susan Robinson
772 Bostwick Road
Ithaca, NY
Cynthia Mannino
124 Tamarack Lane
Trumansburg , NY
christine kimball
97 freese rd
Linda Jaffe
VP Board
Historic Ithaca
2227 turnpike road
East meredith, Ny
Dan Welsh
7 Cove Rd
South Salem, NY
Jonathan Rhudy
2 Eagleshead Rd
Ithaca, NY
barbara appel
Toxics Targeting
56 Lake Road
Dryden, NY