Gas Free Seneca Believes


Dear Neighbor or Lover of the Finger Lakes, we have compiled a list of sources and details that were highlighted in our newspaper ads. Get Informed. Please join us!

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Gas Free Seneca Believes

1. We believe in protecting the water and the beauty of Seneca Lake

The Crestwood project puts our Lake at risk

The Industry Record is not good

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Notable failures at salt cavern storage facilities in the U.S. include:

The company has had to relocate 2,500 families in temporary housing, while hundreds more have left the area on their own.

Many families report falling ill from the noxious fumes which have been spewing into the air at the rate of 110,000 pounds per hour since October- with symptoms including nose bleeds and nausea – and have filed a class action suit against the company and pulled their children from area schools. There are also potential health consequences from the long-term exposure to chemicals like benzene. Benzene is a chemical in natural gas that is known to cause cancer.

Southern California Gas Co. said recently that 14 air samples over nine days found levels of benzene that are at least double the amount that regional regulators consider typical.

Residents fear that property values in the area – described by the local council as an idyllic ‘dream’ community – will plummet because of the leak.

This accident is one of the hundreds where the gas and oil industry has had problems, whether they are caused by equipment failure, human error, or natural disaster. 


These things can and do happen, it’s not a matter of if, but of when, and it’s why we are fighting hard to prevent this from happening in the Finger Lakes.

Risk of Accidents at Crestwood site on Seneca Lake:

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In an independent Quantitative Risk Analysis prepared for the February 2015 Issues Conference Dr. Robert Mackenzie states, “The probability of serious or extremely serious salt cavern storage events is more than 40 percent over 25 years, including both baseline and incremental risks. The significant possibility of major salt infiltration into Seneca Lake with extreme consequences, and the fact that the salt cavern is located in bedded salt strata rather than salt domes, add to this risk.” For the full report, go to:

The project includes the use of 1,785 rail cars per year, carrying explosive propane over the 80 year old trestle that spans the famous Watkins Glen State Park Gorge where ¾ million people visited last year.  In the event of a derailment during tourist season, visitors to the park would be trapped.  “It’s like building a movie theatre with no exits”, said Schuyler County Legislator, Michael Lausell.

In relation to the catastrophic methane leak in Porter Ranch, our independent expert reports the following:

“Of the 419 underground gas storage facilities in the US in 2013, most were located in large depleted gas and oil fields, such as Aliso Canyon near Porter Ranch.  Only 40 were in salt caverns.  Nowhere else in the nation is gas stored in salt caverns next to a drinking water supply the size of Seneca Lake. 

Based on a published governmental worldwide survey of gas storage facilities over three decades, the likelihood of an incident causing injury or death is 20 times higher in salt cavern facilities than in depleted oil and gas fields, perhaps due to the more corrosive environment. Between 1972 and 2012, there were at least 20 serious or extremely serious incidents in domestic salt cavern gas storage facilities.  These have included injuries and deaths, large fires, evacuations, and major property loss.”

-Rob Mackenzie, of Trumansburg NY is former CEO of Cayuga Medical Center and the author of “Risk Analysis of Schuyler County LPG Storage Proposal”.

Crestwood has a history of accidents

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At their Savona LPG storage facility in 2008, a drilling rig caused a release of gas that ignited and caused severe burns to four people.


-In the summer of 2012, Crestwood had two brine pipeline leaks of its own on the shore of Seneca Lake.  One went unreported for nearly 3 weeks until eyewitnesses sent video footage of dead and dying vegetation to the DEC. July2012 brine spill reported 3 weeks late:

August 2012 brine spill:

– In 2014, Crestwood had a brine spill Mandaree, N.D. , where A pipeline leaked 1 million gallons of brine into the ground at a North Dakota Indian reservation, and some of the byproduct ended up in a bay that feeds the lake that provides the reservation’s drinking water.  The spill also damaged trees, brush and grasses in the area.

 -Just this past Labor Day 2015, a generator at Crestwood’s US Salt plant caught on fire, engulfing tourists and boaters in the smoke.

 -Crestwood has further violated their effluent discharge permit 9 out of the last 12 quarters, exceeding their allowance to dump an average 44,000 pounds of sodium chloride into Seneca Lake per day and up to 70,0000 pounds per day.  This, in a stressed lake that serves as a drinking water source for 100,000 people, and is already many times saltier than any of the other Finger Lakes. (EPA Enforcement and Compliance History Online: )

 They have proven that they are bad actors and bad neighbors with a bad track record.  We live in a region where our farmers and winery owners lend each other a hand and support each other’s businesses, because we know that we all will grow and succeed together.  Crestwood is not the kind of neighbor we want here in the Finger Lakes.

 Spike in Seneca Lake drinking water’s salinity:

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Propane was stored in the salt caverns between 1964-1984.  When the caverns were initially pressurized to store gas, there was a corresponding spike in Seneca Lake’s salinity, which cannot be explained by any other phenomena or event.  Our independent expert notes that re-pressurizing those caverns to store propane could cause a similar spike in salinity, making an already salty lake undrinkable.

Independent Hydro Geologist Dr. Tom Myers:

“In my opinion, the Cl [Chloride] discharges in the mid1960s were caused by the LPG storage activities taking place at that time (in the same salt beds FLLPG now proposes to use for LPG storage). The scientific mechanism for the Cl discharges is explained in this paper. Simply put, the changes in pressure inherent in LPG storage—where higher pressure brine displaces LPG when you want to remove LPG from the caverns, and where lower pressure LPG displaces brine when you want to add LPG into the caverns—exert pressure on the salt formation. The salt formation slopes upward as you travel north up Seneca Lake, until the salt beds intersect with sediments directly under Seneca Lake. The pressure from the LPG activities is transmitted along the salt formation until it essentially squeezes out highCl groundwater into the bottom of Seneca Lake.

The Cl discharges in the mid1960s were extremely high, and greatly increased the overall CL concentration in the lake. The currentlyproposed LPG storage in the salt beds would, in my opinion, do the same thing. Since there is no real way to monitor or prevent these discharges, as explained below, FLLPG’s proposed LPG storage should not be permitted in the salt beds.”

See Full report here:

 Unstable Geology:

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There is history of roof collapse in the salt caverns slated for gas storage.  The caverns were never engineered to store anything. The caverns also lay along a strike slip fault, where there was a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in September 2013 ( ).

 Independent Geologist Dr. HC Clark:

“The FLLPG application and draft permit conditions defeated all of my expectations and failed to conform to standard industry practices I have observed over decades as a professional geologist.  In my opinion, FLLPG understates cavern integrity risks, and the incomplete and inaccurate information in its application leads me to conclude that the Galleries cannot be used safely to store LPG, even with the monitoring required in the current draft permit conditions.”

See full report at

Negative Impacts to the Community Character of our region:

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Currently, a delicate balance exists between industry and agri-tourism in the region.  Crestwood’s plan, even before expansion**, would tip that balance to heavy industrialization, threatening our economic stability, our property values, and our way of life.

 Independent Community Character Expert Dr. Harvey Flad:

“In my opinion, the Project will overlay an indelible industrial image on the cultural landscape of Seneca Lake, and the Finger Lakes more broadly, which will significantly and adversely affect the inhabitants’ hard-won and prized community character. The seriously detrimental effects of the Project that I have identified include:

(1) disruption of scenic vistas, including views over the lake and its surrounding rural, small town, and viticultural landscape;

(2) traffic and noise impacts, potentially of trucks and certainly of railroad, especially on recreational users of Seneca Lake and lake-side residents seeking peace and quiet; and

(3) socio-economic impacts on the region’s wineries and tourist-related business, which depend on stable community character as the foundation of their brand. The draft supplemental environmental impact statement has no discussion whatsoever of community character and therefore necessarily fails to take a hard look at these significant adverse impacts on that area of environmental concern.

Given the nature of those impacts, moreover, no conditions that may be added to the underground storage permit will be able to mitigate their damage, if it is allowed to occur.”

For full report see


**Crestwood has asked the Department of Environmental Conservation for permission to store 88.2 million gallons of Liquefied Propane and Butane, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand methane storage to 2 Billion Cubic Feet.  Above ground infrastructure would include a 6-track rail siding, a truck loading and unloading depot, 2 huge open brine pits, compressor stations, active burning flare stacks, and more. 

This is just the beginning, however, since this project utilizes only a few of the 90+ depleted caverns on the 1.2 miles of shoreline in the town of Reading, NY.  The company claims that they have “Over 40 Million barrels of previously solution mined cavern capacity convertible to energy storage” on that site ( ).  

2. We believe in a sustainable economy and good jobs for our region

Gas companies come and go. The wine and tourist industry are here to stay.

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The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Crestwood (then Inergy) states that 50 temporary construction jobs and 8-10 full-time, permanent jobs will be created.  (source: DEC)

When Crestwood’s subsidiary in Owego expanded their facility, local Union members were outraged when they hired a West Virginia firm for the construction.

US Salt jobs would not be threatened if gas storage permits are denied!  This is textbook, classic corporate bullying.  It is a tactic that has been used by corporations throughout decades to scare politicians into supporting their development. Any fiscally responsible corporation would not shut down a profitable business, they would sell it.

The wine, agriculture and tourism industry creates 58,000 jobs and brings $2.8 Billion dollars into the region annually (Source: US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand).  Should we take the risk of jeopardizing this sustainable economy for the sake of 8-10 jobs?

Winery owners, local businesses, and community members say no. 

 We are leading the way toward a more sustainable, compatible future in the Finger Lakes by going renewable.  Finger Lakes Wine Country just received the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar Champion Award for its renewable energy initiative (see details here).  This initiative is the equivalent of removing 2,900 cars off NY’s roads, or not consuming 1.5 million gallons of gasoline, all while saving money, reducing pollution, and creating local jobs along the way.  These are the kinds of sustainable, compatible jobs we want in New York.  One local solar company, Renovus Energy, experienced a 725% employment increase this past year.

The local, regional businesses in the Finger Lakes have worked for generations to create the “Finger Lakes Brand”, which now serves as a vital economic anchor in this area.  We are home to more than 400 historic sites and landmarks, 135 museums, 80 art galleries, 14 theatre companies, over 100 wineries, 300 bed and breakfast facilities, and 650 miles of shoreline.  We are a top world-class tourist destination.  Just Google the Finger Lakes, and see what comes up: is it industry, or is it wineries, tourism, racing, and our rich natural historic culture and resources?  If Crestwood were to come in and industrialize the heart of the region- and remember, Seneca Lake is major conduit  for getting to the other lakes and tourist towns-and an accident should occur, what do you think would be the first thing to pop up if you Googled the Finger Lakes?  Accident. Even if there is a million in one chance that an accident could happen, we cannot afford to take that chance.

Reduced Property Values:

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Mel Russo, Owner – Senecayuga Properties LLC:

“Another huge factor to consider with lake contamination is the real property tax base. As an example, Seneca County alone has a full market value (based on 2014 average sale) of over $600 million. In the town of Varick, the lakefront real estate constitutes over 80 percent of the taxable real estate assessment there. All of the lakefront towns in the Finger Lakes contain billions of dollars of assessed value generating millions of dollars of tax revenues supporting schools, fire departments, infrastructure and governments. With water contamination, the assessments of waterfront properties would fall drastically because of decrease in demand resulting in property values dropping precipitously. Who will provide the majority of local support for schools, government and infrastructure then?” source: Finger Lake Times

Will there be financial gain for Schuyler County and the Town of Reading?

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Answer: Crestwood is a Texas-based corporation that would not pay sales tax on any of the gas going in or out of the facility.  They have already sued Schuyler County- and won- to have their property tax assessment reduced by $7 Million, with plans to ask for a greater reduction in the future.  The Town of Reading would see approximately $70,000 in property tax revenue and Schuyler County would receive about $300,000 should the project be approved.  But let’s consider the potential loss of property values and tourism jobs and dollars that could be a result of this kind of industrialization.  It would not be a net gain for the county.  On the other hand, one Phish concert at the Watkins Glen Race Track brought $700,000 into the county (source).  Why not promote more events like this that are compatible to the existing economy with less risk?

3. We believe in Renewable Energy

The world is moving away from fossil fuels. Solar power, wind power and other renewable energy is the future. We should do the same. The beauty and fresh water of Seneca Lake is our future.

There is enough gas storage already in the region

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3 Facilities already exist within a 60 mile radius of Watkins Glen NY that store 3.5 million barrels of propane, enough to heat 600,000 homes. In New York, only 225,000 homes rely on propane for heat. 100% of the propane stored at this facility will leave by pipeline and go to a supply terminal in Selkirk, NY that serves New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. (Source: Crestwood Midstream)

“During the past two winters, which were quite severe, the Enterprise facility was able to meet the propane needs of the region.” (Quote from Schuyler County Legislator, Dennis Fagan –Odessa File  Nov. 19, 2015)

The Finger Lakes Region does not need to be the sacrifice zone for gas industry export

Will home heating costs go down if the propane storage facility is constructed?

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Consider this: there are two salt plants in Schuyler County.  Is salt cheaper locally?  No.  Propane costs, like salt, are not based on proximity, they are market- driven. During the 2013-2014 heating season when propane prices skyrocketed, there was nearly 3 times more storage locally than New Yorkers rely on for heat, and our prices kept pace with the national average.  (Source: US Energy Information Administration)

The DEC has not approved the gas storage facility

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Despite Crestwood’s claims that the DEC has signed off on the project, this is false.  They are referring to DEC’s Department of Minerals, using Crestwood data, NOT the DEC itself, which took the community’s concerns so seriously they held an Issues Conference in 2015 and are still reviewing the independent research.

While Crestwood may be referring to a single paragraph from Acting Associate State Geologist, Andrew Kozlowski, containing no citations of fact and stating that based on a review of the geology (provided by Crestwood) the salt caverns are suitable for gas storage:

We are on the hook for Crestwood if anything happens

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Crestwood’s interest, as a corporation, is naturally in maximizing its profits for its stockholders.  It is not insured for many of the inherent risks associated with this kind of industrialization, and will not set aside sufficient funds to cover the environmental nightmare that will ensue in the event of an accident.  In addition, Crestwood has agreed to hold harmless the State and Schuyler County.  In essence, the risk is passed along to us and other taxpayers in the region. (Source: Crestwood SEC Filings, DEC)


The Crestwood project must be stopped. We ask you to join us.

For the reasons outlined above, there are 31 municipalities in the Finger Lakes, representing 1.2 million people in the region, who have officially registered opposition to this ill-conceived plan (See Map under Government Resolutions).

These are Towns, Counties and Cities like Syracuse and Rochester who voted mostly unanimously and across party lines.


There are nearly 500 businesses on the Gas Free Seneca Business Coalition and the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition (FLXWBC) who are opposed to this project.

The 1199 United Health Care Workers Union unanimously passed a resolution opposing the plan, as have Schuyler County health care professionals.

Sen. Mike Nozzolio, Assemblyman Brian Kolb and Senators Avella, Krueger, Tkaczyk and Latimer have all written letters of concern to Governor Cuomo regarding the project.

Two Schuyler County Legislators, Michael Lausell and Van Harp, filed for party status last February with Gas Free Seneca, citing safety issues related to the proposed project.

Finger Lakes State Parks Regional Commission drafted a resolution citing their concerns regarding possible accidents that could result in harm to both the park and the patrons using the facility with increased rail traffic which would cross the 80 year old trestle above the gorge.  Watkins Glen State Park is a highly visited park and in 2015 was voted third in the USA Today poll of the ten best parks in the country.

Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, regional municipalities and the FLXWBC also participated in an issues conference in February opposing the project.

The New York Federation of Lakes has opposed the plan, as has the famed conservation organization, the Izaak Walton League of America. 

The New York State Sustainable Business Council and the American Sustainable Business Council which represents more than 200,000 businesses and more than 325,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers and investors sent Governor Cuomo a letter on the anniversary of the NY fracking ban requesting that the LPG project’s permits be denied.  Additional signatories to the letter include Chefs for the Marcellus, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, and Green America.

Businesses downstate realize that the Finger Lakes is their breadbasket, providing many restaurants with the food they use to serve their patrons, and of course the fine wine that accompanies their dishes.

We trust that Governor Cuomo will determine that the risks of this gas storage and transport facility are far too great, and will listen to the overwhelming majority of businesses, constituents and elected officials throughout the state who are asking that Crestwood permits be denied.

Please join us!

Write Governor Cuomo

Add your name to our Business Coalition