You are here

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

Stacy Snyder
154 Westhaven Road
Ithaca , New York
Jerry Ravnitzky
124 Hill Street
Mahopac, New YorkFerrar ROUTE
Eileen Driscoll
125 valley view
Ithaca, Ny
Barbara Warren, RN, MS
Executive Director
Citizens' Environmental Coalition
422 Oakland Valley Rd.
Cuddebackville, NY
Kathleen Cooke
5539 Lisle Road
Owego, NY
John Bowers
1406 Trumansburg Road
IthaCA, ny
Roc Johnson
Cornell Outdoor Education
711 E Seneca St.
Ithaca, NY
Susan Tallman
1527 Smith Rd
Hamilton, NY
Rebecca Elgie
409 Linn St
Ithaca, NY
anna berg
133 W24th St
sarah striffler
605 Hudson Street
Ithaca, NY
MJ Kribs
25 Eggleston St
Corinth, NY
Delores Bennett
Unadilla Friends and Neighbors
PO Box 556
Unadilla, NY
Anne Lazarus
524 East 20th St. 2G
New York, NY
l seifried
4129 road 35
sidney center, NY
Mary L
2504 State Route 79
Trumansburg, NY
Dariusz Listopadzki
2996 S. Oakwood Dr
Painted Post, NY
Paul Batman
Between the Lakes Indivisible
1684 Lodi Station Road
Lodi, NY
Mark Karlsen
332 Aiken Rd
Trumansburg, NY
Theresa F Alt
206 Eddy St.
Ithaca, New York
Eva Zucker
749 West End Av
New York, New York
Amy Penick
Metrics Integration Fellow
Campus Sustainability Office
36 Dove Drive
Ithaca, NY
Helen Deckelman
10 Hankins Road
Hankins, NY
Star Hesse
member activist
Tusten Energy Committee, Sr. Legislative Action Committee
7698 State Route 52
Narrowsburg, NY
Dwain Wilder
The Banner newsletter
289 Rich's Dugway Rd.
Rochester, NY
Lynn Cahill-Hoy
4413 Lathrop Drive
Marcellus, NY
Nancy Medsker
67 Marsh Rd.
Ithaca, NY/d
Patricia Vendryes
138 Bull Hill Road
Newfield, NY
Lynda Caspe
150 Franklin Street, #7
New York, NY
Peter Morrison
1425 Thickett Rd
Castleton, NY
Frances LaBarre
15 Congdon Road, PO Box 1564
New York, New York
Daniel Taylor
Co founder
Concerned Residents of Oxford
321 E 90 st
Paul Tobin
215 Moonhaw Rd, 215 Moonhaw Rd West Shokan
West Shokan, NY
Jean Rightmire
Classic Consulting
1986 Clarks Corners Road
Marathon, NY
Denise Speicher
504 Winton Rd N
Rochester, NY
Jennifer Cleland
333 Spencer Rd
Ithaca, NY
Mira Bowin
John Burroughs natural history society
1125 Lucas avenue ext
Hurley , Ny
Ann Swanson
4201 Massachusetts Ave NW 7026
Washington, District of Columbia
Brandi Merolla
7824 State Route 52
Narrowsburg, NY
Poppy Singer
1244 Ellis Hollow Road
Ithaca, NY
Peg Schadt
165 Myrtle Ave
johnson City, New york
Andrew Cranston jr
Holmes, NY
Steven Handwerker
103 S Beach Rd
So Burlington, VT
Peggy Bartels
6927 Valley View Rd.
Clinton, New York
Stanley Scharf
214 S. Hill Terrace
Ithaca, NY
Judith Johnson
po box 624
Croton on Hudson, NY
John Zinda
Ithaca, NY
Philip Fillion
107 N Fulton St
Auburn, NY
Karen Neuberg
2 Grace Court
Brooklyn, NY