Crestwood Midstream, a Texas-based corporation, plans to industrialize 600+ acres in Reading, New York (two miles north of Watkins Glen), so they can create a “gas storage and transportation hub” for the entire Northeast. They would store massive quantities of propane, butane, and methane gas under pressure in depleted, unlined and unstable salt caverns.
88 million gallon Liquid Petroleum Gas (propane and butane) storage facility in salt caverns under the shores of Seneca Lake would be the largest in the Northeast and one of the largest in the U.S.
New York State has not yet made a final decision about Crestwood’s plans for LPG storage.
An expansion project to increase the methane inside the caverns from 1.5 billion cubic feet to 2 billion cubic feet. Future plans would expand up to 10 billion cubic feet—a seven-fold increase. On September 30, 2014, FERC approved Crestwood’s construction plans.
As of August 2015, construction has not yet begun.
Seneca Lake is the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country. The location of this facility is right along Rt. 14, near wineries, heading into the tourist town of Watkins Glen. Even under best circumstances, the project is a massive industrialized project right along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.
“Certainly if we were starting from scratch and saying, ‘Where would you build a liquefied petroleum gas storage facility?’ you probably wouldn’t put it right there over Seneca Lake, near the wine country,” – Bill Gautreaux, president of Crestwood’s liquids and crude business unit. NY Times
The LPG project’s draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) does not address the impacts on community character from the proposed LPG Facility and the related heavy industrial activities. Noise, impacts to aesthetics and visual resources, health and safety, and cultural resources all lead to the the potential for diminished tourism as a result of a perception that the region has become industrialized and contains hazardous activities potentially affecting public health. In turn, a reduction in tourist activity will cause impacts such as the closing of businesses and decline in agricultural output, both leading to increased vacancy rates among commercial properties.
NYSEG rejected the use of these caverns in 2011 for compressed air energy storage due to the potential for leakage. “The absence of a substantial layer of salt on the roofs of these caverns, combined with the potential for cavern to cavern leakage made the potential re-use of existing caverns for the storage of high pressure air problematic.”
The salt caverns are located in an area of fault lines; there was a magnitude 2.0 earthquake in 2013.
The LPG will be transported by train–1,785 rail cars per year, as many as 32 per day. Many of the explosive train derailments in North America in the past 15 years have involved LPG tankers. A derailment on the trestle over the Watkins Glen State Park would be catastrophic. The trestle is privately owned and rusty; inspection records are not publicly available.
Storage of LPG in the 1970s corresponded with an increase in Seneca Lake’s salinity. A similar spike would violate drinking water standards. Over 100,000 people depend on Seneca Lake for their drinking water, and it is the source of water for many of the area wineries. Crestwood is currently under investigation by the EPA for a 1 million gallon brine spill in 2014 on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
Compressors, flare stacks, train engines, and trucks all release greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Pipelines and compressor stations routinely leak unburned methane, propane or butane. Unburned methane is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2.