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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

Stephen Singer
445 Ferguson Rd
Freeville, New York
penny baron
445 Ferguson Rd
Freeville, New York
Kendall Carpenter
312 Lake Ave
Nicholas Taylor
325 Woods Road
Kingston, NY
Deborah Kahkejian
398 State Route 69
Williamstown, NY
M Buffy Hodgetts
101 Jersey Street
Rochester, New York
Jennifrt Zackin
Rte 21/
Bearsville, NY
Corbin Laedlein
441 39th Street
Brooklyn, NY
Cynthia Brock
First Ward Alderperson
City of Ithaca
324 Brookfield Road
Ithaca, NY
K Stokem
1001 Maple Hill Road
Castleton on Hudson, NY
Judy Coutinho
PO Box 113
Matthew Knight
4501 Krums Corners Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Angela Johnson
Anne Haas
1957 County Rd. 3
Olivebridge, NY
Erin Eldermire
Head Librarian
543 Brooktondale Rd
Brooktondale, NY
Maki Inada
Associate Professor
Ithaca College
3 Lowell Place
Ithaca, NY
Michael Zuber
Binghamton University
89 Moore Ave
Binghamton, New York
Melissa Bodnar
609 Neill Street
Cochranville , Pa
John Bodnar
609 Neill Street
Cochranville , Pa
Ellen Weininger
24 Prescott Avenue
White Plains, New York
Jeff Niederdeppe
Associate Professor
Cornell University
122 Simsbury Drive
Ithaca, NY
Lauren Jetty
457 Lansing Station Road
Lansing, NY
carolyn sharp
415 Bostwick road
Ithaca, Ny
Carol Williams
6386 , Cleary Rd.
Livonia, NY
Sandra Kissam
Orange Residents Against Pilgrim Pipelines (Orange RAPP)
1261 Union Av.
Newburgh, NY
sarah mcnaull
2521 west danby road
west danby, ny
Amy Modica
306 Wetherill Lane
Phoenixville, PA
Rowland Laedlein
107 Walnut St
Ithaca, NY
Jacqueline Guinan
508 Kennelwoods Drive
Elverson, PA1-
Stacey McNeill
96 Michigan Hollow Road Apt 1
Spencer , New York
Christopher Sikelianos
637 Hoose Rd.
Cherry Valley, New York
Heidi Gogins
1576 Crescent Valley Road
Bovina Center, NY
Charles Eldermire
Brooktondale, NY
Lindsay Riley
129 n chestnut st
Elverson, Pa
michael culotta
701 N TIoga
Ithaca, NY
Miranda Phillips
402 Utica St.
Ithaca , NY
suzannah glidden
Hands Across the Border
19 Sunset Place
North Salem, NY
Alex Camp
12 Cooper Bay North
Grand Isle, Vermont
Heide Stuebel-Horowitz
Ithaca, NY
Alexis Glennon
2332 state route 90
Aurora, Ny
john lutes
2221 imperial point drive
ft. lauderdale, florida
Meagan Shapiro
5 walnut lane
rosendale, NY
Jules Fuhrmeister
460 Reservoir Hill Rd
Candor , New York
Suki Hall
412 east Lincoln st
Ithaca, Ny
Charles Burch
Gas Free Seneca
396 East 2nd St
Corning, NY
Carole Marner
PO BOX 291
Franklin, NY 13775
Ryan Pothoven
1207 Main St
Pella, IA
Joseph Montuori
75 Lakeside Rd
Mahopac, NY
Anthony Del Plato
Trustee & Water Commissioner
Village of Interlaken Board of Trustees
3509 West Ave
Interlaken, NY
Saundra Goodman