"This is NOT just a Town of Reading or Schuyler County issue! The proposed Inergy project foreshadows the potential industrialization of the Finger Lakes Region. "
DEC Public Hearing Set for 9/27/2011 See Events Page
DEC public hearing on LPG storage Sept 27
Posted on September 18, 2011 by sameshore
Inergy, LP (Kansas City, MO) has imminent plans to develop a massive LP gas storage and distribution hub servicing the North East U.S. in the Finger Lakes, on – and under, in salt caverns – Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen.
Gas Free Seneca invites everyone to join them at the DEC public hearing September 27th at Watkins Glen High School (301 12th Street, Watkins Glen, NY – map) – to voice their concerns about the impact of this development on our area.
The hearing starts at 7:00 pm, and people will be gathering starting at 4:00 pm at the corner of 12th and Decatur streets.
Learn more about Inergy’s plans here.
WHY CITIZENS AND LOCAL BUSINESSES ARE OPPOSING THIS FACILITY 1. IT’S BAD FOR OUR ECONOMY
Further industrialization of this region will irreparably damage the growing wine and tourism industries that many local families have worked for several generations to develop. Inergy has been acquiring LP and natural gas storage in this region since 2005 and as stated above, they hope to make the Finger Lakes Region, “a gas storage and transportation hub” for the northeastern states.
The company has documented plans to increase their salt cavern storage capacity to 5 million barrels (210 million gallons) of LPG and has recently acquired NYSEG’s 2 billion cubic feet of underground natural gas storage with plans to expand to 5-10 billion cubic feet. The volume of gas to be stored in this area is unprecedented. This proposed LPG storage facility alone will be the largest in the Northeast and one of the largest in the U.S.
Tourism Data (Not including wineries and vineyards)
Source: Andrew Rumbach (Doctoral Candidate Cornell University Dept. of City and Regional Planning)
In 2008, Schuyler, Seneca, Ontario, and Yates county visitors spent more than $307 million. The tourism sector employed 6,335 people and generated $146 million in labor income. Visitor spending contributed $20 million in local taxes, and $19 million in state taxes.
Vineyards & Wineries around Seneca Lake
Source: NYS Dept. of Labor, Andrew Rumbach
In 2010, there were 21 firms classified as grape vineyards, employing a total of 161 people and paying wages of approximately $2.7 million and 45 firms classified as wineries, employing 1,017 people and paying wages of approximately $24.5 million. The constant truck traffic running up and down Rt. 14, as well as the noise and visible industrial zone will hinder tourism to this region, and massive industrialization of this scale has been known to negatively affect property values.
Why would we risk all these jobs and livelihoods in wine production and tourism for an industrial landscape?
Relationship to Marcellus Shale Drilling
Although this is not a fracking issue, the relationship to it (via natural gas storage) is what
multiplies the level of industrialization. John Sherman, Inergy’s CEO, talks about the transportation and storage hub and its relationship to the Marcellus Shale in a video titled “Inergy: Making Marcellus Happen.” In it, he states:
“Inergy’s opportunities in the Northeast continue to be enhanced by the Marcellus Shale. The aggressive pace of exploration and development of the Marcellus will play an
important role in Inergy’s midstream growth.”
2. IT CREATES MASSIVE SAFETY HAZARDS
Unfortunately, this industry is not without accidents. Most alarming are the risks of catastrophic fires and explosions of millions of cubic feet of volatile liquid gas that can affect more than a 3-square-mile radius of the facility, encompassing Watkins Glen and surrounding homes and businesses.
According to a representative of Falcon Gas Storage, in 2002 there were 407 underground gas storage facilities in operation in the US and only 7% of them were salt cavern storage facilities. Since 1972, there have been 11 instances of catastrophic failure of underground gas storage facilities and each one has been a salt cavern facility. Many have included explosions with fire and loss of life, and some have required the evacuation of entire towns. Communities in states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri have lived with massive, industrial scale methane and LPG storage facilities as their neighbors and have had to adapt to potential dangers. Local communities have emergency management plans already in place and equipment and personnel to handle a worst case scenario. Our local, mostly volunteer, fire departments and emergency first responders are not equipped to handle disasters of this magnitude.
3. IT PUTS OUR BEAUTIFUL LAKE, THE SURROUNDING REGION, AND OUR HEALTH AT RISK
The proposed LPG facility represents air, water, soil and noise pollution concerns. Risks of gas leaks and compromised brine pits on steep slopes can devastate water and soil quality, as well as wildlife in and around the lake. Seneca Lake is a Class AA drinking water source for 100,000 people, and salt contamination to potable water supplies is nearly impossible to remediate. This facility and the upsurge in truck traffic will dramatically increase the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are known to be particularly harmful to grapevines. Massive industrial lights, noise and emissions from the compressors, trains and trucks at the center of a tourist region are cause for serious ongoing concern.
MISCONCEPTIONS AND REASONS WHY PEOPLE HAVE HESITATED TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS PROJECT
“It’s nothing new.”
Because of the sheer size of the proposed project, and Inergy’s stated aim to become “the storage and transportation hub for the entire Northeast,” this is new. This project will create a level of industrialization that this region has not seen. “The salt caverns are so deep, they won’t affect us.” Even if no catastrophic event happens underground, what happens above ground is certainly going toaffect us in innumerable ways as outlined above.
“This is too political to get involved.”
This is not a political issue. This is largely an economic issue, as well as an issue of risk assessment. The citizens and businesses that make up the Gas Free Seneca coalition represent all major political party affiliations. We see this proposed project as a bad business deal that creates unnecessary health, safetyand environmental risks.
“This project will create jobs, and there is money to be made.”
Eight to ten jobs is miniscule compared to the jobs that would be lost in the wine and tourism industries if this deal goes through. The real money to be made from this project is Inergy’s, and this company isn’t even based in the Finger Lakes.
“People are scared to stand up by themselves.”
No one is alone in this fight. That is exactly why Gas Free Seneca was created – to create one unified coalition.
Thank you for taking the time to read more about this issue. We hope you will join us in our efforts to KEEP SENECA BEAUTIFUL!