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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

Ann Finneran
Chair, Water Issues Committee
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
PO Box 143
Hurleyville, NY
Joel Chaffee
500 West 122nd St, 1H
New York, NY
David Kauber
3080 Rt.90
Aurora, New York
Dooley Kiefer
Tompkins County Legislature
629 Highland Rd
Ithaca, NY
Randolph Hurst
Chair of the Ramapo/Catskill Conservation Group/Co-founder
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter/Protect Orange
83 Post Road
Slate HilI, NY
Wendell F Perks Jr
6035 Turnpike Road
Trumansburg, NY
William McKnight
President & CEO
ECS Better Home
60 Holland Drive,
West Hurley, New York
Joel Gagnon
2353 Spencer Road
West Danby, New York
Anna Engdahl
894 County Road 94,
Hankins, NY
Judith Ackerman
636 West End Ave
New York, NY
Diane Stein
40 Harrison St., Apt. 15A
New York, NY
Ellen Cantarow
15818 Riverside Drive West, Apt 2N-50
New York, NY
James W Hamilton
1603 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, NY
James Turner
408 Robin Lane
Vestal, New York
Mary & Rev. Robert Reader
Orange Co. Peace and Justice, Pinelands Preservation, Sierra Club, etc.
139 Old Minisink Trail
Goshen, NY
Patricia & Peter Ladley
People for a Healthy Environment; Tompkins County Progressives
17 Penny Lane
Ithaca, NY
Adelaide Gomer
513 Wyckoff Road
Ithaca, New York
Erin Heaton Meyer
Vice Chair
Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy
510 County Road 31
Norwich, New York
Leslie Gold
40 Downing St.
Marianne Krieg
614 S Plain St
Ithaca, NY
392 Hathaway Road
Otego, NY
Devin Henry
90 W University St
Alfred, NY
Heriberto Rodriguez
533 County Highway 18
Mount Upton, New York
Raymond Stiefel
ICAN Interfaith Climate Action Network
336 Rachel Carson Trail
Ithaca, NY
Sam Sebren
Candace Wadsworth
Syracuse, NY
Dorothy Sloane
125 Mulberry Street
Rochester , NY
Richard Johnsen
343 Raymond Fish Rd.
Hartwick, NY
Elizabeth Sanders
16 The Byway
Ithaca, NY
Alice Bartholomew
415 Wall Street
Elmira, NY
Patricia Tudisco
83 West Avenue, Apartment 2
Fairport, NY
Laura M Stone
Executive Committee member
Sierra Club Ocean County
130 Douglas Dr
Jackson, NJ
Paula Clair
162 Gallows Hill Road
Garrison, New York
Carla Jaeger
10877 County Route 78
Pulteney, New York
Carl Burak
109 Breeze Ave. Apt. 15
Venice, California
Josephine Girardin
27 Reilly Street
West Islip, NY
Joseph Quirk
147 Avenue A #2R
New York, New York
Laura Purdy
75 Turkey Hill rd
Ithaca, NY
Shannon Isham
8921 Plainville Rd
Baldwinsville, NY
Anna Gibson
311 Bailor Rd
Brooktondale, New York
Jeannette Rice
Rensselaerville, NY
Dianne Sefcik
194 Clickman Rd
Westerlo, NY
Patricia Witten
151 Wood Rd.
Freeville, NY
Harold Kugelmass
PO Box 264
Interlaken, New York
Gail Flanery
1137 Hedgewood Lane
Niskayuna, NY
Sarah Raite
5217 Hook Circle
Jamesville , NY
Gloria Osborne
7768 Straight Rd
Springwater, NY
Mary Graham
4021 McIntyre Rd
Trumansburg, NY
Lenore Ferrill
340 Rachel Carson Trail
Ithaca, NY
Diane Farnham
243 Dubois Rd.
Ithaca, NY