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DEC report: U.S. Salt had two brine spills

    READING—There have been two brine water spills at the U.S. Salt facility in Reading this summer.
    According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation spill reports, 15,000 gallons of brine water escaped from pipes on Aug. 6 and another 1,754 gallons on July 14. The state said that the 15,000 gallons escaped when the facility lost power overnight, causing a valve to shut off and increased pressure in a 1.5 mile long pipe.
    The state said the water escaped from a broken pipe joint and got into a creek which feeds into Seneca Lake. The form said the break occurred at 5 a.m. and was repaired by 11 a.m. The state went on to say the person calling in the report said there were no visible impacts to the lake, such as fishkill.
    The second leak was first reported by a boater July 14. The report said U.S. Salt ultimately found that brine was being sprayed out from a 1/16th inch diameter hole in a pipe. The state said “pinhole leak” caused the brine water to come out as a mist. The form also said the spray did kill some vegetation, but there did not appear to be significant accumulation on the ground.
    Linda Vera, DEC citizen participation specialist, said the state is continuing to investigate the two spills. She added, “fines have not been charged. There are no required public notifications for either spill event; local officials were not notified.”
    After hearing the basic information of the 15,000 gallon spill, Frank Wilhelm, associate professor of University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources, said it would “probably not have any effect” on Seneca Lake. He explained any salt water that gets into the lake would sink until it reached a density level equal with its own and get diluted.
    Calls to U.S. Salt Manager Frank Pastore were not returned by press time.