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Gas Storage Proposal in New York’s Finger Lake Region Sparks Controversy

An energy company’s proposal to expand its use caverns left behind from a century of salt mining in New York’s Finger Lakes Region for the storage of natural gas has drawn the ire of several community members that oppose the plans.  The company would expand its use of depleted salt caverns in the vicinity of Seneca Lake, one of several narrow lakes in west-central Upstate New York, for the storage of liquid propane and natural gas.

For more than a century, companies have been mining salt beside Seneca Lake by drilling approximately 2,000 feet into a salt formation and injecting water to dissolve the salt.  Previous owners used the remaining Seneca Lake caverns to store natural gas for decades.  Opponents of the proposal said that an accident at two proposed brine ponds may jeopardize Seneca Lake, which provides drinking water to 100,000 people.  Critics of the proposal also pointed to a 2004 explosion at a Texas salt storage facility and a 2012 salt mine collapse in Louisiana.