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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

Audrey David
10 Stewart Pl. #9GW
White Plains, NY
Joyce Mosher
61 Wellington Rd.
Delmar, NY
Kristina Turechek
392 Hathaway Road
Otego, NY
Jennifer Engel
927 Taughannock Blvd
Ithaca, NY
Carol Tansey, PAUSE
115 Krumkill Rd.
Albany, NY
Toby Stover
Founding member
Rochester Defense Against Fracking
81 Clove Valley Road
High Falls, NY
Ann McLaughlin
892 Butternut Ridge Rd.
Canton, New York
Ann Bussiere
PO Box 126
Downsville, NY
Mike Millow
1316 Caton Rd
Corning, NY
Leslie Kurzweil
2250 N. Triphammer Rd.
Ithaca, New York
Patricia Heaton
30 Buck Roaf
Lansing, NY
Joan-Marie Bauman
106 Rupp Road
Monticello, NY
Anne Hemenway
PO Box 206
Woodstock, NY
Camille Doucet
30 Marsh Rd
Ithaca, NY
Martha K Brewster
376 Shaffer Road
Newfield, New York
Ann Corrigan
59 Beechwood terrace
Yonkers , NY
Patty Porter
104 Juniper Drive
Ithaca, NY
Marianne Gagnier
252 farm road
Copake, 12516
Elaine Livingston
1403 Glenwood Rd
Vestal, NY
Laurie Roe
108 West Buffalo Street
Ithaca, New York
Kyllikki Inman
110 Halcyon Hill
Ithaca, NY
Laurel Hodgden
112 Halcyon Hill
Ithaca, NY
Carol Ransom
21 McDuffy Hollow Rd
Van Etten, New York
Sheila Long
Transfiguration Monastery
701 State Route 79
Windsor, NY
Suzanne Anderson
6200 Deer Run Lane
Trumansburg, New York
Karen Chimento
200 East Buffalo street #302
Ithaca, New York
Rebecca Casstevens
Accountant, Sole Proprietor
BeanCounters Unlimited
22 Winding Way
Binghamton, New York
Robert Aceto
336 Forest Home Drive
Ithaca, NY
Nancy Lipshitz
321 Oquaga Lake Road
Deposit, NY
Peter Morrison
1425 Thickett Rd
Castleton, NY
Peter Bianco
190 Clinton Road
New Hartford, NY
patricia rodriguez
559 Brooktondale Rd
Brooktondale, NY
Kevin Mayer
47 Cobb St
Groton, NY
Philip Matsu
922 County Road 94
Fremont Center, NY
sarah sweeny
Sweeny Architects
POBox 6
Tivoli, NY
Mark Kuebel
402 W. 148th St #42
New York, NY
Peter Hudiburg
Plymouth Friends for Clean Water
P.O. Box 61
South Plymouth, NY
Richard Driscoll
Former Supervisor
Town of Newfield
114 Bank St.,
Newfield, NY
Caroline Levine
Cornell University
4 The Byway
Ithaca, NY
Donna Mundt
P.O. Box 187
Newark Valley , NY
John Kastner
50dorset st
Rochester, New York
George Mundt
P.O. Box 187
Newark Valleys, NY
Dan Moseson
320 Greenwood Place
Syracuse , NY
John McClelland
139 School St., Mosherville
Millerton, PA
Eileen Murphy
208 Pottery Lane
Cooperstown, NY
Gene Polito
45 Shady Rest Dr
Sag Harbor, NY
Cari Gardner
EC Member
44 Clarewood Drive
Hastings on Hudson, NY
Elisa Evett
298 BAld Hill Rd.
Brooktondale, New York
Richard Sigor
1741 W.Cory Rd
King Ferry, New York
Diane MacInnes
Sanford Oquaga Area Concerned Citizens
739 Oquaga Lake Road
Deposit, NY