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Gas storage project on Seneca Lake moving onto next phase

Credit Doug Kerr / via flickr


The DEC’s “draft permit conditions”, released on Monday, propose rules that would have to be followed if the state issues a permit to Finger Lakes LPG Storage. Finger Lakes LPG, which is owned by Houston-based Crestwood Midstream Partners, wants to store up to 2.1 million barrels of butane and propane in old salt caverns on the western shore of Seneca Lake, in the Town of Reading.

That’s what the draft permit conditions issued by the DEC are about. The “issues conference” is part of the DEC’s permitting process. It comes after public hearings, but before a judge would decide on major points of dispute.

And, in this case, there have been some points of dispute.

Joseph Campbell is co-founder of Gas Free Seneca, a group of local winemakers and business owners and concerned neighbors, who by the way, have enlisted lawyers from Earthjustice.

Campbell’s group and their lawyers argue that Finger Lakes LPG’s application doesn’t offer enough evidence that the salt caverns are safe for gas storage.

“The documents on that underground storage permit are the documents that the company has been keeping confidential. So now we have less than 30 days to obtain those documents and forward them to our independent experts,” says Campbell.

Earthjustice commissioned reviews from two independent experts of what’s known about the salt caverns’ geology. Both concluded that the caverns couldn’t be labeled safe for gas storage based on what’s been provided by the company.

The publicly available reports from Finger Lakes LPG, posted on the DEC website, are heavily redacted. So the project’s opponents are asking for unredacted reports. They also have to apply for “party status” with the DEC, and Campbell says they need the full reports to make their argument.

The application to participate is due by December 10th. The conference is scheduled for February 12th in Horseheads.

Matt Richmond comes to Binghamton's WSKG, a WRVO partner station in the Innovation Trail consortium, from South Sudan, where he worked as a stringer for Bloomberg, and freelanced for Radio France International, Voice of America, and German Press Agency dpa. He has worked with KQED in Los Angeles, Cape Times in Cape Town, South Africa, and served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon. Matt's masters in journalism is from the Annenberg School for Communication at USC.
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