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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

Dennis Cook
8132 Creekview Drive
Bridgeport, NY
Cary Fassler
same, 398 state rt. 69
Williamstown, New York
Wendy Wakula
377 Hunts Corner Road
Marathon, NY
Matthew Carney
201 Walnut Street, Apt. No. 102
Corning, NY
James-Henry Holland
Associate Professor
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Asian Studies, HWS Colleges, 300 Pulteney St.
Geneva, NY
Robert Nickerson
69 Hart Road
Spencer, New York
Thomas Shelley
118 E. Court St.
Ithaca, NY
Diana Drucker
Greenstreet Real Estate
1187 East Shore Drive
Ithaca, NEW YORK
David Mitchell
402 Esty Street
Ithaca, NY
Kristina Fedorov
6920 State Hwy.7
Maryland, NY
Ilse Funk
238 Mill Rd
Cherry Valley, New York
Carla Sullivan
Concerned Citizens of Rural Broome
Maine, NY 13802
Teresa Michel
1849 Honoco Rd, P.O.Box 225
Aurora, NY
Katharine Wolpe
Exec. Committee Member
Village Independent Democrats
107 East 10th St., Apt. 1C
New York, NY
Pam Gueldner
28 Brooktondale Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Stephen Keast
PO Box 105, Hurd Rd.
Slaterville Springs, NY
708b plymouth drive
lakewood, NJ
Janice Cragnolin
12562 County Rte 23
Unadilla, NY
Elizabeth Henderson
2218 Welcher Road
Newark, NY New York
Obie Hunt
1150 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY
Jane Schantz
142 Indian Creek Road
Ithaca, NY
Wendy Millroy
PO Box 94
Brooktondale, NY
Maria Studer
127 Springtime Lane West
Levittown, NY
Harry Aceto
411 Willow Ave.
Ithaca, NY
Gail Musante
official signer for S-OACC
Sanford-Oquaga Area Concerned Citizens (S-OACC)
199 Front Street
Deposit, NY
Julia Morgan
234 Rachel Carson Way
Ithaca, NY
Melissa Bishop
Catskilll Citizens for Safe Energy
72 Elm St.
Deposit, NY
Victoria Furio
Climate Justice
37 Highland Ave
Yonkers, NY
Sarah Gagnon
2353 Spencer Road
West Danby, NY
Erica Hart
93 William Brown Rd.
Hankins, NY
Janice Burton
3058 Slaterville Rd
Brooktondale, NY
Jean Hricik
445 Smith-Kingsman Rd.
McDonough, NY
Ann Mallozzi Ellis
2140 Long Creek Road
Apalachin, NY
Miles Reader
16 Buttonwood Drive
Pilesgrove, NJ
Michael Frys
Sierra Club
Conklin Rd
Conklin, NY
Karen Diefenbach
48 McKeel Avenue
Tarrytown, NY
Lars Peterson
PO Box 13
King Ferry, NY
Neil Freson
26 Bitternell Lane
Henrietta, NY
Elaine Shuster
61 Stewart Ave - Unit 311
Newburgh, NY
Douglass Turner
37 S. Main Street
Alfred, NY
Herbert & Carolyn Tinney
7633 Thuunder Mountain Trail (Town of Springwater 14560-0125)
Wayland, NY
Maude Rith
540 Main St.
Etna, NY
Justin Ehrlich
142 Giles St
Ithaca, NY
PETER Mechalke
27 bradley st
Trumansburg, NY
Laura Nowack
28 South Main Street
Earlville, NY
Elaine Sperbeck
Main Street First
618 E. Monroe Street
Little Falls, New York
Shirley Kozlowski
115 West Road
Groton, NY 13073
Eugene Marner
PO Box 291
Franklin, NY
Richard Snow
104 Grand St.
Croton on HudsonPriv, NY