Public forum set on Seneca Lake Gas Storage

A plan by a Missouri energy corporation to store millions of barrels of liquefied petroleum gas in abandoned salt caverns around Seneca Lake will be the topic of a special public forum on Thursday, April 14.”This proposal could turn our area of vineyards, farmland and tourist spots into a heavy industrialized zone with hundreds of heavy trucks clogging our roads and highways,” said Jack Ossont, spokesman for the Coalition to Protect New York, one of the co-sponsors of the forum.Ossont notes that Inergy, LP, the company behind the proposal, describes its plan on its website as being part of its overall strategy to take advantage of massive drilling in the Marcellus shale and “to make The Finger Lakes the gas storage and transportation hub for the Northeast United States.”The forum, entitled, “Seneca at a Crossroads,” is open to the public and will include presentations from non-industry-paid experts. Schuyler County officials and members of the economic development group SCOPED have also been invited to speak, but declined. Representatives from Inergy were invited to attend and meet with members of the public to address their concerns, but they have declined as well.A question and answer session will follow.The sponsors of the forum, which include several area grass-roots citizens’ groups, believe there are a number of questions and concerns surrounding the project that need to be discussed, such as the project’s impact on truck traffic, tourism, wineries, quality of life, noise and light pollution, property values, public safety and the environment; especially Seneca Lake, which is a Class AA drinking water source for over 100,000 people. More detail is also needed on the company’s plan for a 14-acre open brine pit.The forum will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday April 14 in the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium, 301 12th St., Watkins Glen.Speakers who have committed to present are Karen Edelstein, geographic information systems consultant; Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology, Cornell University; John Halfman, Ph.D., water quality expert and professor of geoscience and environmental studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Jack Ossont of the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes; and Thomas Shelley, environmental health and safety and hazardous materials expert, Cornell University (retired).The event will be videotaped and live-streamed via Shaleshock Media. Organizers will be available for media interviews before the event. The group hopes to draw many local residents as well as legislators and executives from Schuyler County and Watkins Glen, the Town of Reading, and surrounding communities.For more information visit www.gasfreeseneca.com

Also on FingerLakes1.com