Appalachian Basin

Silent No More!

I am David Crea, a Licensed Professional Chemical Engineer (registration Idaho #3851).  I am speaking as a member of the heretofore “silent majority” that understands the need for economic development of our area and the inevitability of change.  Nonetheless, in the interest of full-disclosure, please note I have a connection to the Inergy gas storage project in Watkins Glen as a US Salt employee and, in fact, one who routinely deals with the brinefield and knows the background with the wells and cavities there.  The current maps and cavity-drawings we use have been drafted under both mine and others’ guidance, for instance.  I know what this project is about – it’s safe, it’s needed and it’s fully compatible with our region.

In my 37 years of professional experience, I have often worked with chemicals normal people deem ‘nasty’, ‘hazardous’, ‘toxic’, ‘poisonous’, and ‘self-igniting in air’.  These include things with names like ‘Elemental Phosphorus’, ‘Di-Phosphine & Phosphine’, ‘Hydrogen’, ‘Carbon Monoxide’, ‘Hydrogen Cyanide’, ‘Sulfur Dioxide’, ‘Caustic Soda’, ‘Hydrofluoric & Phosphoric Acids’, and ‘High-Voltage’.  Each has its own hazards, but all are known to be controllable and routinely dealt with in chemical-industry practices.  I have worn fireproof coats and pants, rubber boots, face shields, rubber-gloves, high-voltage gloves, and respirators as needed to deal with each hazard posed.

Now, I deal with salt, which is comparatively ‘tame’ under room-conditions.  However, as you might guess, it too can be hazardous, even poisonous, if used inappropriately.  I help US Salt now as their Process Engineer to produce food and pharmaceutical salt as economically and efficiently as possible.  I am proud to say I came in 2001 when US Salt was running-poorly, and as part of a small core-team, nursed it back to full-health, assuring those 125 jobs at the plant would remain and be ‘stable,’ for the employees and this community.

I have watched the Watkins Glen scene with direct interest now for  10-1/2 years.  I came during the period when Wal-Mart wanted to enter the market.  Some were afraid of and against the ‘change’ that project implied.  Time seems to have proven we did not suffer too much, though I myself do miss the ACE Hardware Store, and now Henderson’s Pharmacy, being conveniently downtown.

In that time, I have witnessed considerable changes to our local situation: the tourists, wineries and events for the multitudes seem to multiply.  I have not heard objection to these noticeable changes.  Yet, a person concerned with negative effects might argue that nutrients from people and agricultural pesticides are the greatest threats to Seneca Lake’s clean-water.  Professor John Halfman’s studies of Seneca Lake point that out, and warn of possible eutrophication threatening in 20 years or so.

Therefore, an appropriate response to that concern would be to send the tourists back where they came from, and ban vineyards and agricultural operations within the Seneca Lake drainage-basin.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT actively advocating that!  I am only pointing out that if you are going to be ‘against change,’ banning tourists and wineries make as much sense as banning gas storage facilities – no sense at all.

No, rather, I note that whatever changes may come, that a given person may like or not like, people as a whole adjust to them in a relatively short period.  Life goes on.

Thus is it is today with the proposed ‘change’ to go back to higher-volume LPG storage in the area, with the installation of the proposed 2.1 million-barrel Finger Lakes Storage Facility.  More capital investment on the tax rolls, more jobs and more local economic opportunities will be the result – an overall good and desirable result.

On September 27th, the New York State DEC will hold a public hearing to ask one simple question: “Is the Draft Environmental Impact Statement complete enough to be satisfactory?”  If the answer is ‘yes’, then a permit to install the facility will be the result.  If ‘no’, who can predict how long further wrangling will take, as it has already taken two years of multi-cycle questions and answers to get to the 1,500-page document that we have now.

You may obtain and study this document here.

I ask the County Legislature to advise DEC that, in its collective estimation, this document is ‘assessed as adequate’, and no further requirements should be added to further delay the project.  The Legislature should encourage DEC to proceed with haste.

The letter of support should be addressed to:

David L. Bimber
Deputy Regional Permit Administrator
6274 East Avon-Lima Road
Avon, New York 14414-9516
Telephone Number: 585-226-5401

Although there have been noisy voices heard on TV and in print decrying this ‘change’, we, the silent majority, recognize that proceeding is the appropriate-step, and encourage the Legislature to give that support.


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