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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

Walter Hang
215 North Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY
Minfong Ho
893 Cayuga Heights Road
Ithaca, NY
Mary Dennis
210 Highgate Road
Ithaca, NY
Danfung Dennis
Condition One
Brisbane, Ca
John Dennis
893 Cayuga Heights Road
Ithaca, NY
Carolyn Kreisel
4348 Swamp College Rd
Trumansburg, New York
David A Lewis
548 Liddington Hill Road
Harford, NY
Julie Mundt
607 Broad St.
Endicott, NY
Bernie O'Doherty
607 Broad St.
Endicott, NY
J. Sullivan
601 N. Cayuga St.
Ithaca, NY
Eric Mundt
100 Imperial Circle
Rochester, NY
Peter Mundt
P.O. Box 549
Brant Rock, MA
Frankie DeMarco
241 Sixth Ave., #11C
New York, NY
Penny Beebe
P.O. Box 102
Freeville, NY
Antonia Shouse-Salpeter
116 Westbourne Lane
ithaca, NY
Frederick Barken
125 Genung Circle
Ithaca, NY
John Given
118 Lieb Rd.
South New Berlin, NY
Susan Singh
4011 So Atlanta Pl
Tulsa, OK
James Sherpa
302 Giles St
Ithaca, NY
Jacquelyn Clinton
1109 N Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY
Noreen Stevenson
16 Elm Street
Chester, NY
Martha Scoppa
32 Cold Spring Road
Liberty, NY
Patricia Dinges
232 Hibernia Road, P.O. Box 240
Salt Point, NY
Jill Weiss
508 Central avenue
Scarsdale, NY
Edythe Ann Quinn
903 County Hwy 3
Unadilla, NY
Margaret Human
81 Prospect St
New Paltz, N.Y.
Sheryl Samuel
891 Berme Rd
High Falls, NY
Vinny Aliperti
4760 W Lake Rd
Geneva, New York
Clare Greene
1031 Taughannock blvd
Ithaca, NY
Nancy Norton
Stone Quarry House
26 Quarry Road
Ithaca, NY
Gene Binder
5900 Arlington Avenue
Bronx, New York
Christine Bainbridge
1450 Mecklenburg Road
Ithaca, NY
Debra Claire Gmelin
11 Buchanan Road, Knickerbocker
Pittsford, NY
Judith Fletcher
MUSE (Musicisans United to Save the Environment)
525 W. 238th St. Apt. A1, Apt. A1
Bronx, NY
Amanda Byrnes
127 Co. Hwy. 5
Otego, NY
Andrea Thompson
1104 King St
Santa Cruz, CA
Stephen Engleman
125 Valley View Rd
Ithaca, NY
Patricia Heckart
24 Elm St
Trumansburg, NY
Steven Handwerker
Karin Yomboro
412 Dutchtown Rd.
Dolgeville , NY
Oskar and Ellen Schmidt
8 Genung Circle
Ithaca, NY
Wright Salisbury
17 North Street
Lexington, MA
John Claus
Professor Emeritus
Ithaca College
632 Bostwick Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Margaret Goodman
51 Broomall Lane
Glen Mills, PA
Barbara Chasin
129 Rachel Carson Way
Elaine Jurumbo
205 E 78 St
New York, NY
Barbara Schildcrout
208 East 21 Street (6A), 99 John Street, Unit 1610
New York, NY
Joan Farber
400 West 23rd St
New York, New York
Robyn Wishna
Susan Sarabasha
311 Tupper Rd
W Danby, NY