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Board expresses concerns for potential Inergy emergency responders

    WATKINS GLEN—Members of the Watkins Glen village board said they want to make sure emergency responders can handle an accident at the proposed Inergy LLC $40 million gas storage and transfer station, during the Tuesday, Sept. 6, meeting.
    Around 45 people people were present at the meeting, filling the room to capacity.  Members of Gas Free Seneca were present to express their opposition to the project in Reading on the west side of Seneca Lake.  David A. Crea, process, energy, and reliability engineer for U.S. Salt was also present.  Inergy owns U.S. Salt and the proposed salt caverns for storage of liquid gas are on U.S. Salt property.
    Joseph Campbell, organizer of Gas Free Seneca, spoke to the board about his and other's concerns.  He said the station would increase truck and train traffic to the area.  Concerning the railroad, Campbell said the trains would be going over the 75 year old trestle in Watkins Glen State Park, with each car housing 32,000 gallons of gas.
    He also pointed to fault lines in the area and that the recent 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia was felt in Watkins Glen and in other parts of the state.  He added, "you can't engineer out an earthquake or a hurricane."  Campbell added there is at this point no emergency plan in place by Inergy and that the company has said it will provide one after the permit to proceed has been given.
    Crea spoke on a few points that have come up about the project.  He said traffic would mostly be by train coming in, and by train and pipeline sending the gas out of the area.  He explained that most deliveries would be in the winter.  Concerning the brine pond, Crea said "brine ponds don't suffer catastrophic failures."  He added the pond, used in extracting gas from the caverns, would only be half full with salt water on average.
    Board member Scott Gibson said they need to do what's best for the community.  He also said he supported Inergy being required to do a quantitative risk analysis of the project.  Gibson said the speakers were most likely going to get a neutral position from the board.  One issue he did say he had with the plan was Inergy building a single brine pond to house all the water.
    Watkins Glen Mayor Mark Swinnerton said he has been looking into it and still has questions about the project.  He said he would be at the Sept. 27 public hearing held by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at the Watkins Glen school.
    "Do they fail?  Ya, they fail.  They also do amazing things," he said.
    Board member Kevin Smith said his concern is making sure area emergency services can provide the appropriate response in an accident.  Wayne Weber, fellow board member, echoed this by saying the fire department needs to be able it can respond appropriately.
    "We need to make sure the fire department has been there and over safeguards," said Weber.
    In other business:
    • Future board meetings will be broadcast on local channel five.  The board approved paying $8,543 to install the video and audio equipment in the board room.  Weber voted against it, saying "I'm under the belief we're considerably over budget."  He said the village could purchase it in the future.
    • The village board approved an agreement not to exceed $59,000 with Hunt Engineers to redesign the plans for the village's raw water intake station.
    • Clerk Donna Beardsley asked the board to approve an agreement with GreenStar Services to clean the village hall.  The contract, for $2,270 a month, was approved through May 31, 2012.  Beardsley added this includes cleaning supplies and equipment, which the village had to buy and provide previously.


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