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Firm claims NYSDEC knew of salt cavern leaks


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) -- According to Toxics Targeting President, Walter Hang, Crestwood Midstream subsidiary, Finger Lakes LPG in Watkins Glen could have leaks in some of their underground salt caverns. Hang says there's reports where one well, well 64, may be in communication with a number of other wells, known as Gallery 10.

"We're basically releasing for public review, extensive documentation which shows that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) knew in 2011, seven years ago, that there were documented leakage concerns in the salt caverns that were being proposed for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage," said Hang.

Hang says Finger Lakes LPG wants to store Liquefied Petroleum Gas in their salt caverns along the shores of Seneca Lake without the state requiring them to test for any potential leaks prior. He says there are three connecting wells they know of for sure; wells 60, 61 and 62. What Crestwood doesn't know is if there is any connection from those three wells, and well 64, to gallery 10 where there could be potential well leaks. As WENY News reported, Crestwood informed the DEC on May 17th it plans to perform a pressure test on Gallery 10, after the discovery regarding well 64.

"The state actually required the permit applicant to come up with a work plan to investigate this concern, but then it never required that investigation to be carried out. It actually said that the applicant could carry out this critical study after the permit to store gas in these salt caverns had been granted. That makes no sense."

Earlier this month, Finger Lakes LPG notified the DEC of plans to perform pressure testing on a series of wells, as the company continues to wait for approval of its permit. These pressure tests will help the company figure out if there are any leaks or connection to Gallery 10. Hang says this testing should have been required before the state grants the company permission to store LPG. He says if testing isn't done and there's a leak in the future, it could have irreversible consequences.

"So the concern has always been if there are uncontrolled releases from these caverns, then Seneca Lake could be impacted. Once these problems begin, they're virtually impossible to halt."

WENY News reached out to the Department of Environmental Conservation to ask why pressure testing wasn't required when drilling activities began on the property in 2011. The DEC says they have not made any final determination on Finger Lakes LPG's permit application. They say the decision will be based on a comprehensive review to decide whether their application meets the states environmental standards designed to protect public health and the environment.