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Lawmakers calling on DEC to stop salt mine expansion


ITHACA (WENY) - Cayuga Salt Mine has been in operation for nearly 100 years. Now, Lawmakers are calling on the DEC to put an end to under water expansion.

Cargill recently applied for more permits, allowing it to expand its current operation north up the lake. Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton announced Thursday, that she and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation, drafted a joint letter to the DEC asking to block their request and subsequent requests.

Lifton and Englebright say, mining under Cayuga Lake could pose potentially catastrophic risks. “Anyone who wants to understand the catastrophic consequences of a mine collapse should study what happened when the Retsof mine collapsed in Livingston County in 1994,” said Lifton. “It caused sink holes and major property damage."

But what are the chances of a collapse like that happening again. Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting says he couldn't say. "If heaven forbid there were ever a catastrophic failure in that mine. It would very likely flood and cause irreparable pollution problems in that lake."

Right now, Cayuga Lake serves as a fresh water resource for more than 30,000 people. Officials say, this is one of their main concerns. But Shawn Wilczynski, the Mine Manager of Cargill, Lansing says, "he sustainability of the lake. As I mentions it's absolutely critical to the employees at Cargill. And we are members of the community as are our families our friends and everything else."

Mike Sigler, the Tompkins County Legislature is asking, why it wasn't "unsafe 30 years ago. It's because it isn't unsafe. The mine knows what it's doing." Adding, his concern for the miners themselves; "Of course there's going to be a loss of jobs."

It's not know how the DEC will respond to Lifton and Englebright's letter.