Petition grows against gas storage project
READING—A petition drive is underway to protest the proposed $40 million Inergy, LP, liquid gas storage and transfer facility in Reading.
The project includes storing and distributing propane and butane on a 576 acre site. The proposed plans include storing the gas in existing salt caverns. Joseph Campbell, Pulteney homeowner, said he started the petition because the project is a potential environmental hazard.
The online petition, located at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/Save-Seneca-Lake/, was started Feb 23 of this year. As of Monday, March 21 the group had 422 signatures with a goal of 1,000. However, according to the hosting Web site, as it is an online petition it does not have any enforceable weight because of issues with signature authentication. Campbell said when the petition is finished it will still be delivered to John J. Sherman, president and CEO and Inergy, LP.
“Our plan is to do our best to oppose it,” he said.
The petition also lets posters leave comments. One, by a John Read says, “Why would you consider risking our pristine lakes and our local economy. We have some of the the most beautiful country found in the Northeast. Let’s tread very carefully and conduct impact studies including local authorities from our most prestigious colleges and universities. Currently, I vote NO!”
Paula Brewer said, “Please let this be more investigated. The lake is too important to many.” Dorthea Sterling opposed the project by saying “This is my HOME!”
In response March 21, Inergy media representative Debbie Hagan said, “Although we appreciate the local residents’ concerns, we are confident that—once they understand the positive benefits to the local community and the economy and that the project will be designed and engineered to assure public safety and avoid impacts to the environment—they will be supportive of the project. In the near future, Inergy intends on holding its own Public Information Session to address concerns of residents of the town of Reading and the Watkins Glen community and to correct any misperceptions about the project.”
That’s not all Citizens Opposed to LPG Storage on Seneca Lake is doing, though. Campbell said people are passing around paper petitions as well. He added the group is putting together a forum with experts to discuss the potential impacts of this project, tentatively scheduled for April 14. He said the list of speakers has not been finalized yet.
There is also a Facebook group, “Citizens Opposed to LPG Storage Facility on Seneca Lake” and a Web site, http://gasfreeseneca.com. From the site, Campbell said people can sign up to join an e-mail list. Both sources gather stories and information about gas storage and use of salt caverns. In addition to leading people to the online petition, Gasfreeseneca.com also lists several aspects of the gas storage facility:
• Construct and operate a new underground LPG storage facility for the storage and distribution of propane and butane on a portion of a 576 acre site near the intersection of Routes 14 and 14A in the town of Reading.
• Proposed storage capacity of 2.10 million barrels (88.20 million gallons).
• Construction of a 14 acre brine pond located on a steep slope just above Seneca Lake with a capacity of 91.8 million gallons.
• Construction of a new rail and truck LPG transfer facility consisting of: A six track rail siding capable of allowing loading/unloading of 24 rail cars every 12 hours 24/7/365. A truck loading station capable of loading four trucks per hour (with the possibility to expand) 24/7/365.
• Construction also to include surface works consisting of truck and rail loading terminals, LPG storage tanks, offices and other distribution facilities and storm water control structures.
“A lot of people have no idea this is going on,” he said.
Campbell said the group wants to inform people. He said he wasn’t aware of the project until this year. The project came before the Reading planning board starting in September of 2009. Last year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation took over as lead agency in charge of reviewing the project.
The DEC said the project had potential negative impacts, like increased vehicle and train traffic in the area. Campbell said those were two concerns of his as well. He added another big concern is the brine pond, used to displace the gas from the salt caverns, being so close to the lake. Campbell said there is only an earthen berm between the salty water and Seneca Lake.