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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

Keitha Capouya
485 Meyerdierks Road
East Meredith, NY
Susan Clelland
37 Bellewood Ave
Dobbs Ferry, NY
Virginia Miller
119 middaugh road
Brooktondale , Ny
Timothy Clark
140 Pine Tree Rd
Ithaca, NY
Marie Small
81 Laurel Street
Brattleboro, VT
Miriam Rice
4396 Krum's Corners Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
Paul Rice
4396 Krum's Corners Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
David DeVivo
15 New England Dr.
Rochester, New York
Arnold Talentino
38 Van Hoesen Street
Cortland, NY
Julie Elson
510 W. Lawrence St.
Albany, New York
Bruce Dunn
188 bell hill rd
morris, Ny
william m landau
po box 171, 20 Church Street
Hankins, New York
Suzy Kramer
406 N Cayuga St
Ithaca, NY
Kristin and Richard Ross
56 Waterburg Rd
Trumansburg, NY
Laura Hurst
6534 Monte Vista Court
Eagle Point, OR
Lesley Brill
64 W. University St.
Alfred, NY
Sheila Gallagher
2807 N. Delaware Drive
Easton, PA
Ellen Weir
Otsego 2000
539 chistianhill rd
Cooperstown, New york
Judith Barker
309 Washington
Ithaca, New york
r Ottinger
Elizabeth Haub Law School at Pace Univesity
Pace Law School, 78 North Broadway
white Plains, NY
Robyn Bem
3 Ringwood Court West
Ithaca, NY
Marilyn Klaiber
72 Algonquin Rd
Clifton Rd, NY
Martha Ferger
PO Box 8
Dryden, NY
David Sibley
2 Dove Drive
Ithaca, NY
Nicholas Prychodko
PO Box 2138
Bridgehampton, New York
Marjorie Furio
37 Highland Ave.
Yonkers, NY
Donna Mummery
67 Village Trail
Honeoye Falls, New York
John Burke
74 laurel Av
Sea Cliff, NY
Helen Burlingham
Co-founder/formed to fight any Retsof disaster duplicate
Regional Action Group for the Environment-RAGE
6320 Soper Rd.
Perry, NY
Robert Strickstein
1 Troy Drive
Rhinebeck, NY
Susan Harris
124 High Street
Hastings on Hudson, NY
Sherry Gendreau
POB 22
Hemlock, NY
Karyn Sochacki
9176 S Rhodes Road
Lodi, NY
Brian Lee
5 Renwick Dr
Ithaca, NY
Judith Rothenberg
1703 Coddington Rd
Brooktondale, NY
Donald Henderson
20 Woodlane Rd.
Ithaca, NY
cenie cafarelli
Sc Member 10626382
56 Rand Place
Pittsford, NY
Pamela Washburn
42 Elm St
Cooperstown, .Y
Emily Adams
488 Valley Rd, P.O. Box 86
Ithaca, New York
Phyllis Edwards
Whitney Point, NY
Rita Calvo
110 Cobb St.
Ithaca, New York
Lani Bullock
64 CR 132
Hankins, 12741
William Meyer
Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group
17 Pine Street
Mount Kisco, NY
Sara Schultz
Vice Chair
Sierra Club Niagara Group
126 North Cayuga Road
Buffalo, NY
Catherine Johnson
223 Rachel Carson Way
Ithaca, NY
Solina Kennedy
630 Stewart Ave
Ithaca, NY
Carl Arnold
Norman Farwell
643 County Hwy 8
Morris, NY
Sally Crow
214 McBerney Rd.
Greene, New York