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Next battle over Finger Lakes gas storage facility: an issues conference

The southwestern shore of Seneca Lake and the U.S. Salt plant.

The next fight in a long battle over storing liquefied petroleum gas along the western shore of Seneca Lake is an issues conference next month. Opponents to the facility are trying to get a seat at the table along with environmental officials and the gas company.

Storing the liquefied gas, or LPG in an expansive network of empty salt caverns along the southwestern shore of this finger lake was first proposed five years ago.

The company behind the plan, Crestwood, says there’s a need for more natural gas to heat homes in upstate New York. And it says the facility would be safe.

Credit David Chanatry / NYRP
Protesters opposed to the LPG storage facility in July 2014.

But residents and wineries have fought the plan hard, lobbying state environmental officials. They say industrializing the lakefront wouldn’t gel with the Finger Lakes wine country vibe that’s brought so many tourists.

Ken Camera is a city councilman in Geneva, the town on the northern end of the lake. He says any spill from an LPG storage facility would have a drastic effect on the region.

"Substantive impacts from an accident would touch nearly every sector of economy and our day to day lives," he said. 

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has been mulling an application first submitted in 2009. The agency has agreed to hold an issues conference February 12 in the town of Horseheads to discuss concerns with the application.

No public comments will be taken, so opposition groups have submitted requests to be able to be included in the talks. 

"This is an industry that cannot coexist with the already existing and growing $4.8 billion New York state wine industry," said Justin Boyette, owner of the Hector Wine Company.