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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

Barbara Kane Lewis
702 Pat's Place
Ithaca, NY
Janet Ievins
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, SOCAN
417 James Cir
Talent, OR
Holly Adams
607 Stilson Road
Hunt, NY
Lou Priem
276 Van Yahres Rd
Cooperstown, NY
Cynthia Stevens
226 Valley Road
Ithaca, New York
Carolyn Fellman
15 Park St.
Moravia, NY
Susan Andrews
15 Park St.
Moravia, NY
Paul Rubin
President; Hydrogeologist
414 E Kerley Corners Rd
Tivoli, NY
Paula Murray Cole
Associate Professor
Ithaca College
123 East King Road
Ithaca, NY
Rose Mary Hooper
5 Mechanic St
Naples, NY
Amy Harlib
212 W 22nd St Apt 2N
New York, NY
A. Lindsay Groves
Principal Cellist
PO Box 930
Skaneateles, NY
Steven Foster
Professor Emeritus
3906 Chatham Lane
Canandaigua, NY
James Johnson
311 Tupper Road
Spencer, NY
Jeffrey Dembowski
335 State Street
Albany, NY
Elizabeth Panus
Retired teacher
60 Summit Ave.
Buffalo, NY
Donald Mintz
29 Whig Street
Trumansburg, NY
Russel Oliver
11 Sherman Rd
Kerhonkson, NY
Neill Clenaghan
8 Acre View Dr
Northport, NY
Tara Sumner
Vice President
Advocates for Springfield
PO Box 302
Springfield Center, New York
L. Glasner
27 W 96 St
William Hecht
PO Box 86
Union Springs, NY
Dennis Lane
140 Wagon Wheel Lane
Cutchogue, ny
Joel Wysong
2675 Agard Road
Trumansburg, NY
Bill King
130 Westhaven Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Daniel Evett
1456 Coddington Rd.
Brooktondale, NY
John Jongen
Citizen's Alliance for a Pristine Perinton
164 West Church Street
Fairport, New York
Gretchen Herrmann
433 Bostwick rd
Ithaca, NY
Brenda Lee
16 Quarry Dr
Wrappingers Falls, NY
Gary Hodges
920 Snyder Hill Rd.
Ithaca, New York
Katie Fittipaldi
3 Sugarbush Lane
Pittsford, Ny
Nancy Sharpe
216 6th St
Liverpool, NY
John Merriman
4801 Butler Dr
Cortland, New York
Karen Smith
68 Mary St.
Ithaca, New York
Jos. Holdner
Sierra Club, .350
109 Grassy Ridge Road
Olivebridge, New York
Cait Darfler
Whig Street
Trumansburg, New York
Bonnie Cavaleri
917 Lotville Rd.
Dolgeville, NY
Marilyn Anderson
Sierra Club
34 Nicholson St.
Rochester, NY
Sarah Caspar
525 Hopewell Rd
Downingtown, PA
Elizabeth Watts
16 Starks Place
Lynbrook, NY
Bill Metzger
Great Lakes Brewing News
571 South Park Ave
Buffalo, NY
Shyama Orum
305 West 28 Street
New York, NY
M.Sharon Gambocorto
7626-7 Highbridge Rd.
Manlius, N.Y.
Taffy Williams
191 Westchester Avenue
Tuckahoe, NY
Kathy Morris
97 Seely Hill Rd
Newfield, NY
Donald McFarland
3434 County Road 9
Burdett, New York
Marsha Acerra
PO box 881
ithaca, NY
Daniel Sternglass
Strategic Marketing Associates
403 Highgate Road
Ithaca, NY
Max Schmid
46-07 28th Ave
Astoria, NY
Benjamin Roach
109 W Jay Street Apt 2
Ithaca, New York