Watkins will ask DEC to require Inergy to do risk analysis for gas storage project
WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen board met Monday, Oct. 17, and voted to submit a comment to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation on behalf of the village regarding Inergy’s proposed liquid petroleum gas storage facility in Reading. The letter will acknowledge that all projects present inherent risks and will request that the DEC require Inergy to commission a quantitative risk assessment to determine the specific risks involved with this LPG storage project.
The vote came after Joseph Campbell of Gas Free Seneca again urged the village to comment on the facility. Campbell had made a similar plea to the village board on Sept. 6 and his group organized a presentation by chemical engineer Dr. Charles Sorenson on Sept. 22. Campbell began by stating that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project was “woefully inadequate” and went on to read items in the DEIS that particularly concerned him, like the possibility that a chain link fence would be the only barrier to corral a potential accidental release of LPG. He then responded to some of the board’s questions from the Sept. 6 meeting by informing them that his group had tallied the signatures on their petition and determined that around 1,400 to 1,600 were residents of State Rep. Tom O’Mara’s district.
The board’s official stance on the project remains neutral, however “as community leaders, we want to know more,” explained Trustee Scott Gibson. He added, “I like to have information in front of me, and a QRA would do that.” Mayor Mark Swinnerton said that “every project or activity, including driving your car, has inherent risks.” The purpose of a QRA is to provide a tool for balancing the potential risk of a project with the overall economic benefits. The board maintained that they represent the whole community and therefore would not be taking an official position on the project at this time. Gibson though, said that “they do have a duty to look out for the community.”
Trustee Kevin Smith wondered why Inergy had not provided a QRA already, and said that, to him, “it almost seems like they have something to hide.” With that the board passed a resolution to submit a comment to the DEC requesting that Inergy provide a QRA prior to final project approval.
In other business:
• The board voted to allow Watkins Glen Promotions to hold Village Christmas on Dec. 2. Village Christmas is an annual event that includes a parade, live music, food and craft vendors, and fireworks. The festival will also include skits and games performed by the Lake Country Players in the municipal building. Franklin Street will be closed from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Third to Seventh Street.
• The board also voted to allow the organizers of the annual CROP Hunger Walk to set up a table for registration near the pavilion in Clute Park and another in LaFayette Park for water and snacks. The walk is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 23.
The next village board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.