Take our Poll: LPG storage near Seneca Lake

Derrick Ek
Inergy, the parent company of U.S. Salt, plans to use its underground salt caverns for large-scale LPG storage.
Some feel increased industrial development and truck traffic from the Inergy LPG project could have a negative impact on Seneca Lake’s natural beauty and wine trail tourism.
Jason Cox

A pair of public meetings have been scheduled on Inergy’s proposed LPG storage facility on Seneca Lake.

Inergy, a Kansas City-based company, purchased the U.S. Salt plant on the west side of Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen in 2008 and is planning to use its salt caverns to store large amounts of liquid petroleum gas.

The company is planning to build a truck and railroad facility just off State Route 14A to transfer LPG. The project also includes the construction of a 13-acre brine pond on a hillside above Seneca Lake.

The project, under review by the state Department of Environ-mental Conservation, has generated concerns about truck traffic, pollution, public safety and its effect on Seneca Lake tourism.

Inergy representatives and Schuyer County officials will host a public informational meeting from 6-9 p.m. April 13 at the Watkins Glen Community Center, 155 South Clute Park Drive, Watkins Glen.

“As this has the potential to be both controversial as well as divisive within our community, we have scheduled a public informational session ... in the interest of receiving accurate fact-based information while providing an opportunity for the public to ask questions of experts in this field,” Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn wrote in an e-mail.

“At this time the county has not taken a position on this project and is actively engaged in conducting due diligence of this proposal. The upcoming meeting is an attempt to further that process and involve the public in so doing,” O’Hearn added.

Also, a public forum has been scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium, 301 12th St. It was organized by Gas Free Seneca, a group of area residents concerned with the project’s potential impact.

“With the potential to impact all aspects of life in the region – property values, water quality, air quality, light and noise pollution, health, roads and infrastructure, property taxes, tourism, wineries, farming and food security, emergency services, employment, and overall quality of life – this is a topic on which everyone should be as well educated as possible,” states a press release from Gas Free Seneca.

The speakers will include:

• Jack Ossont, member of the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes.

• Dr. John Halfman, professor of geoscience and environmental studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.

• Thomas Shelley, a former chemical hygiene officer at Cornell University’s Environmental Health and Safety program. He’s now retired.

• Dr. Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University.

• Karen Edelstein, a geographic information systems consultant.

A question-and-answer session will follow the speakers’ presentations. More details are available at www.gasfreeseneca.com.