The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is nearing a decision on a permit to allow the storage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) along the southwest shore of Seneca Lake. The proposed site, in the Town of Reading, is 2.5 miles north of Watkins Glen and would store up to 2.10 million barrels (88.20 million gallons). The application was submitted by Finger Lakes LPG Storage, a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream (Crestwood).
If approved this would make Reading, NY a major distribution hub for LPG for the northeastern United States. Opposition to the location of this storage facility has come from many quarters: Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA), most Seneca Lake municipal governments, the Seneca Lake wine and tourism industry, Gas Free Seneca as well as many residents as well as communities from the broader Finger Lakes region.
Chief Administrative Law Judge James T. McClymonds will make a decision within the next few months on whether to recommend that an adjudicatory hearing be held on issues that were not adequately addressed in the permit application process.
The DEC has taken 5 years to review Crestwood’s permit application. During their Issues Conference held in February, 2015 attorneys for DEC stated that “no party has raised substantive and significant issues”.
The petitioners opposing the permit in this Issues Conference were: SLPWA, Gas Free Seneca, Seneca Lake Communities, Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition, and two individual Schuyler County legislators.
Some of the issues raised were classified “confidential”, at the request of Crestwood, because they were based on documents the applicant claimed were proprietary trade secrets. Several petitioners, including SLPWA, have appealed this determination. The judge’s decision is expected soon. Discussion of the claimed confidential issues, which included cavern integrity and water quality, were not open to the public and the transcripts are not available pending the decision on confidentiality. Other issues, discussed in open session, included: community character, public safety, noise, alternative sites, cumulative impacts, indemnification and public need/benefit.
The non-confidential transcripts and post-conference briefs will be posted on this website when they become available.
Petitions filed by SLPWA contain confidential information (as classified by Crestwood). SLPWA has filed a motion to declassify all information related to this petition, but cannot share the petition at this time. The assessments of four geologists who served as SLPWA’s “experts,” are that the permit should not be granted because of questionable cavern integrity and the potential for water quality deterioration.
At long last, the DEC website technical issues have been resolved, and the public Finger Lakes LPG permit hearing documents are now posted on the DEC’s website. You may access them at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/103189.html.
They are also accessible from the Finger Lakes application documents page at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/71619.html. Go to the bottom of the page and click on the heading “Finger Lakes LPG Storage Permit Hearing Documents.”
Some materials, including the post-issues conference brief and reply filed by Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, are not being posted at this time because they may contain materials claimed to be confidential by applicant. A motion is presently pending before the Administrative Law Judge challenging applicant’s confidentiality claims.