On August 17, 2017 the NYS DEC issued a permit allowing Cargill, Inc. to proceed with construction of its Shaft 4 project at 1001 Ridge Road, Lansing, NY. DEC granted the permit without following Environmental Impact Statement procedures that would have allowed objective, independent, and public examination of the environmental hazards posed by Cargill mining under Cayuga Lake and reaming a shaft through local aquifers. Naturally, CLEAN is disappointed in this news.
CLEAN was formed because of residents’ concerns about increasing environmental risks as Cargill mines north under the lake. Specifically:
- DEC has never required Cargill to follow its Environmental Impact Statement procedure in connection with mining under Cayuga Lake;
- Cargill has consistently maintained that its salt mine operation is not subject to DEC regulation; and
- Cargill and DEC have, for years, followed an “environmental review” procedure that relies heavily on reports and information generated by Cargill! These reports are reviewed for DEC by an outside consultant paid by Cargill. Much of this process is vigilantly protected from public access by Cargill’s invocation of trade secret protection under the Freedom of Information Law.
Although it is clear that Cargill cannot continue to expand its mining operation northward under Cayuga Lake without building Shaft 4, both Cargill and the DEC have treated the Shaft 4 project and permit application as something wholly distinct and separate from northward mine expansion. In more than one context, DEC has stated that Shaft 4 has nothing to do with expanding Cargill’s mining operation northwards. CLEAN believes this is not a well-founded position, and that Cargill improperly segmented its permit application for the Shaft 4 project.
In its “Response to Comments” relating to the Shaft 4 permit application, DEC states:
“This action, to install a new Shaft #4 and appurtenances, is necessary to allow air ventilation and safe access to the existing underground mine which has already been permitted. This action does not include expansion of the underground mine into new unpermitted areas. Mining north of the currently permitted boundary will not be authorized without a further permit modification.”
Cargill’s current Mined Land Permit expires on November 1, 2017, and must be renewed by application to DEC. We are determined to raise our issues again, produce our evidence again, and urge DEC to follow its Environmental Impact Statement procedure with respect to that application.