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Seneca Lake Activists Celebrate Decision to Nix Natural Gas Storage Project


More than 4 trillion gallons of freshwater fill Seneca Lake. It's the main source of drinking water for 100,000 people in the region.

And on top of that: "The lake is absolutely magical and beautiful. For some reason I just gravitate here," said Jennifer Turpin of Horseheads.

Yet for years, it's been repeatedly threatened by toxins like propane, methane and butane.

"This is not the place for industrial gas storage and transport," said Gas Free Seneca President Joseph Campbell

"There's a legacy of contamination problems that were never cleaned up," said Toxics Targeting President Walter Hang.

But Thursday, activists are celebrating a victory that came as quite a shock. Salt mining company Crestwood decided suddenly to nix a controversial project.

They'd been pushing for years to expand their natural gas storage operation along the lake, despite pushback and protests from environmental groups. But in a twist, the company itself decided to drop the project, even though they had the approvals and permits they needed to move forward.

"This is a company that really only cares about one thing, and that's the bottom line," said Hang.

According to the company's bi-weekly report, it no longer saw the value in the project, saying the bids it received didn't support the investment it would have to make to bring the project to completion.

"It's a validation of what we've been fighting for," said Campbell.

But activists say their fight is far from over. Crestwood is still pursuing an entirely separate project for a propane storage facility.

"I think the propane storage was always the bigger, badder of the two projects. It's all pain and no gain for us here in the Finger Lakes," said Campbell.

In the meantime, they're thankful their hard work has paid off, and they're hopeful it will continue to pay off as they face the next challenge.

Neither Crestwood, nor Schuyler County legislators who are in favor of the project, could be reached for comment.