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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

Paula Rogovin
Co chairGARDE
Coalition to Ban Unsafe OilTrains
Teaneck , NJ
Esther Herkowitz
94 Mary Street
Ithaca, NY
Jane Atkin
181 Westhaven Road
Ithaca, New York
Jonathan Petronzio
Leader of the band
Road Man
617 N Cayuga St
Ithaca, Ny
Thomas Burkart
100 woodsedge dr
Lansing, New york
Daniel Keough
ITHACA, New York
Patti Lenseth
PO Box 557
Windham, NY
Gita Devi
2475 Altay Road
Rock Stream, NY
Heather Mount
6081 Stillwell Rd
Susan Newman
6262 Willow Creek Road
Ithaca, New York
lisa carrington
7419 wyers pt rd
ovid, ny
Betty Hess
2683 Riter Road
Corning, NYportercall
Peggy Aker
202 Madison St
Ithaca, NY
roberta wallitt
520 coddington rd
ithaca, NY
Karen Granche
Ridgway, PA
MargaretAnn Bowers
Listen Lead Learn
433 N Geneva St
Ithaca, NY
Judy Csonka
112 Irving Ter
Buffalo, NY
Laura McGill
319 W.47th St, Apt 5F
New York, NY
Anne DeVries
684 E. Aspen Road
Cortland , NE
Brian Eden
147 N. Sunset Drive
Ithaca, N.Y.
Nina Wickett
4829 Limeledge Road
Marcellus, NY
Margaret Adydan
2846 Rt 174
Marietta , NY
Mickey Belosi
6109 Oakridge Rd
Auburn, NY
Regina Randall
617 Cayuga st
Ithaca , Ny
Matthew Fellman
109 pennsylvania ave
Ithaca , Ny
Krys Cail
3110 DuBois Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Sara Hess
124 Westfield Dr
Ithaca, New York
Katie Barrett
Frack Action, We are Seneca Lake, Syracuse Peace council
5055 Van Zandt Rd
Syracuse, NY
Sharon Heller
332 Butternut Dr
Newfield, NY
Jonathan Ferrari
16 Cayuga St
Trumansburg, NY
Melanie Stopyra
109 Thurber Street
Syracuse, NY
Gerri Wiley
Residents Allied for the Futhre of Tioga (RAFT)
19 Lake Street
Owego, New York
Jennifer McLain
115 Woodlea Rd.
Salt Point, NY
Michael Becker
888 C 8th Ave Ste 212
New York, NY
William Mathews
Director emeritus, Corporate and Foundation Relations
SUNY Geneseo
8 Wintgergreen Way
Rochester, New York
Bill Jones
Mark Ferrari
3627 Keesee Road
Moravia, NY
Nathan Richardson
REP Studio
Ithaca, NY
Mary Lee
9183 Booth Rd
Trumansburg, New York
Thomas Ricketson
66 Vanbuskirk Gulf Road
Newfield, NY
Lazarus Boutis
P.O. Box 222, 287 Flugertown Road
Livingston Manor, NY
Debra Myers
363 County Route 64 Apt. 7B
Elmira, NY
Mary Roberts
782 Clark St. Ext
Groton, NY
Earl Hicks
145 East Miller Road
Ithaca, NY - New York
john ryan
87 aal bren rd
delhi, ny
Bill McLaughlin
Warren road
New berlin, Ny
Amanda Means
5 Hanna Lane, #5
Beacon, New York
John Claus
632 Bostwick Rd.
Ithaca, NY