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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

Rodney Priddle
1 Angle Road
Mechanicville, NY
Denise Kooperman
5134 Curry Road
Trumansburg, New York
Mark Casner
33 Belair Road
Staten Island, NY
Gail Neely
180 Protts Hill Road
Newfield, NY
Elizabeth Salon
Family Nurse Practitioner
Integrative Health
Ithaca, NY
Carol Theobald
1237 e Madison st
Ely, MN
sally sweeny
PO Box 6
tivoli, ny
James Rauch
F.A.C.T.S. (For A Clean Tonawanda Site)
Buffalo, NY
manuel rodriguez
1559 betts hill rd
delhi, ny
Peter Pazzaglini
Professor, Senior Scholar
Columbia University
2301 Jenkins Street
Endicott, New York 13760
Mitchell Lavine
719 Ringwood Rd
Ithaca, NY
Mary Ann McDonough
Protect Orange County & TriStates for Safe Energy
65 Highland Avenue
Otisville, NY
Jacqueline Colbert
37 Bull Street
Newport, Ri
Marlene Barken
Associate Professor of Legal Studies
Ithaca College
125 Genung Circle
Ithaca, New York
Dallas C. Galvin
Root & Branch Productions
434 West 120th Street
New York, New York
Judith Hyman
Enfield Neighbors for Safe Air and Water
632 bostwick road
Ithaca, NY
Edmund Haffmans
425 Co. Rt. 2
Accord, NY
Nancy Vann
Safe Energy Rights Group (SEnRG)
201 Union Avenue
Peekskill, NY
Abbe Lyons
154 Westhaven Road
Ithaca, NY
Ann Boehm
280 Speed Hill Road
Brooktondale, New York
Mary Smith
Communications Coordinator
Church Women United in New York State
2001 S Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY
Rose Hilbert
Chamber of Commerce of Ithaca and Trumansburg
112 E. Main St.
Trumansburg, NY
Compressor Free Franklin
9174 County Highway 16
Treadwell, NY
Lisa Montanus
105 Cardinal Ct
Woodstock, New York
Bridget Meeds
204 Center Street
Ithaca, NY
Julien V. Koschmann
705 Ringwood Road
Ithaca, NY
Michael Gorr
8 Deer Run
Skaneateles , New York
Kathleen Gorr
8 Deer Run
Skaneateles , New York
Douglas Kinney
63 River Street
Oneonta, New York
Conrad Istock
41 Horizon Dr.
Ithaca, New York
mary beth oconnor
119 middaugh road
brooktondale, ny
Ross M. Horowitz
820 W King Rd.
Ithaca, New York
Amy Whitney
920 Snyder Hill Rd
Ithaca, NY
Thomas Reyer
211 Gray Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Linda Christensen
Blue Quarry Designs
9284 Route 89
Trumansburg, NY
maria barry
91 east main st
trumansburg, ny
Ramsey Brous
42 Sparrow Crest
Ithaca, NY
RRoyal Colle
Professor Emeritus
Cornell University
121Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, New York
William wakefield
P O Box 393
DeRuyter, New York
Joan Sichterman
PO Box 870
Goshen, NY
William Turechek
392 Hathaway Road
Otego, NY
Gail Goldsmith
Rooseveslt Park Tai Chi
John and Martha Stoltenberg
N8362 State Highway 67, P.O. Box 596
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Linda Griggs
147 Mosley Drive, Apt 2
Syracuse, ny
James Spica
WVKR radio
152 Bloomer rd
Lagrangeville, NY
Lesley Adams
6200 Mount Rd
Trumansburg, NY
John Cockburn
236 East fairview ave.
Altoona, Pa
Jeni DeMarco
9296 Scipio Rd
Nunda, NY
Willard Harman
SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, director, Biological Field Station
5838 St. Hwy. 80
Coperstown, NY