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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

Ryan Clover-Owens
Ryan Clover Consulting
222 Floral Ave
Ithaca, NY
Lena Guyot
165 Goose St
Fly Creek, NY
Brian Dill
54 Old Stage Rd
Groton, NY
Geraldine Aird
41 Ely Drive
Fayetteville,, New York
ed mues
greenville road
sundown, ny
Susan Terwilliger
620 Elm Street Ext.
Ithaca, NY
James Giannettino
10 Alden Ave
Auburn, NY
Samara Rose
Cornell University
408 E Tompkins St
Ithaca, NY
Christian Shaw
Co-executive director
Plastic tides
140 waterwagon rd.
Ithaca, Ny
Jeff Bishop
485 Midline Rd
Freeville, NY
Lucy Garrison
1600 Trumansburg Rd
Ithaca, NY
Susanna Pearce
334 Bostwick Road
Ithaca, NY
YhiChaw Chang
Stick and Stone Farm
1605 Trumansburg Rd
Ithaca, NY
Sharon Michales
4411 Vinegar Hill Rd.
Skaneateles, NY
Kristy Perano
227 Snyder Hill Rd Lowr
Ithaca, NY
Mark Sandrock
768 Jones Road
Vestal, New York
Howard Barker
PO Box 113
Smithville Flats, NY
Joan Lawrence
325 Warren Place
Ithaca, NY
roberta wallitt
520 coddington rd
ithaca, New York
Nancy Hallock
822 Center St.
Cleveland, New York
Gretchen Schulz
158 Weston Road
Rochester, NY
Roger Brennan
Protect Orange County/NYPAN
11 sloop hilll rd
New Windsor, NY
Douglas Knipple
Finger Lakes Zero Waste Coalition, Inc.
44 Madison Ter
Rochester, New York
Wing Eng
109 Highgate Place
Ithaca, New York
Nancy Reynolds
405 Hattie Clark Road
Greene, NY
Helen Cotton
317 Savage Farm Drive
Ithaca, NY
mary mckeon
270 Searles Rd
Margaretville, NY
J E Lawrence
402 Chestnut St
Ithaca, NY
Judy St Hedley
1 Williams Ct
Albany, NY
Anne Ryan
58 Maiden Lane
Susquehanna, PA
Elizabeth Poreba
14113 Route 22
New Lebanon, NY
Peter Specker
611 N Aurora St
Ithaca, NY
Kyle Wellmerling
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Cornell University
130 University Ave
Ithaca, NY - New York
296 Bald Hill Rd
Spencer, NY
Carolyn Clark Pierson
5262 County Highway 14
Treadwell, New York
Susan Spivack
250 Quarry Street
Cobleskill, NY
Cindy Lamb
117 Christopher Cir.
Ithaca, NY
Mikaela Hamilton
240 Risley Hall
Ithaca, NY
Barbara Koslowski
Professor Emerita
18 Renwick Heights Road
Ithaca, NY
Teresa Sutherland
2018 West Lake Road
Penn Yan, NY
Suzanne McMannis
Earthwalk Farm
P.O. Box 4174
Ithaca, NY
Lynn McMannis
Earthwalk Farm
246 Bone Plain Rd.
Freeville, NY
Kathryn Ritchie
nina klippel
145 East 84 St.
New YOrk, New York
elizabeth mehrtens
411 Northern Pines Rd
Gansevoort, ny
Frank Gage
Co. Chair of the WNY Peace Center Climate Justice Task Force
87 Erb St.
BuffLO, NY.
Phebe Gustafson
201 Rachel Carson Way
Ithaca, NY
Hubert Kimball
8223 Dexter Parkway
Baldwinsville, NY
thomas warner
2513 brookview road
castleton, new york
Cameron Brown
39 Rosman Road
Theills, NY