Inergy, the same company that wants to build a controversial interstate natural gas pipeline through Northeast Pennsylvania, also has a proposal pending to store propane gas in upstate New York. The plan is to use spent salt mines just across the border from Pennsylvania at the popular Finger Lakes tourist region of Watkins Glen.
A story published last week by the non-profit investigative journalism organization Public Education Center, has unearthed documents that detail how the site may not be the ideal location despite the company’s claims.
“Rubble 200 feet deep covers the floor of a former brine cavern now slated to hold up to 600,000 barrels of highly pressurized liquid butane near this Finger Lakes tourist village.
The company that seeks regulatory permission to use the cavern and several others like it for hydrocarbon storage argues that they are ideal repositories for explosive material, immune to collapse or leakage due to a protective layer of stable, impervious salt.
But the presence of rubble at the base of each proposed storage cavity raises questions that neither the company nor environmental regulators are willing to air in public.”
The article says the EPA has information it’s not willing to release, despite Freedom of Information Act requests by the journalist, Peter Mantius, who writes for a blog called DCBureau.
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims to hold documentation showing that the roof of the cavern now earmarked for liquid butane storage once collapsed in an earthquake, causing a previous owner of the well to abandon plans to store natural gas there. However, the EPA refused last month to disclose the date of that earthquake and roof collapse or the identity of the company that abandoned its hydrocarbon storage plans, denying DCBureau’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act.”
According to the article, Inergy’s lawyers blocked the FOIA request citing trade secret protection. The piece details a long history of seismic activity associated with the Watkins Glen salt mines.