Monday, September 19, 2011

Hearing on LPG Storage Facility in Watkins Glen, NY

On Tuesday, September 27 the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is holding a public hearing on Inergy's application for a LNG storage and distribution facility on the shore of Seneca Lake, just three miles north of Watkins Glen.

The public hearing begins at 7pm in the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium, 301 12th St. Written comments accepted until Monday, October 10. Send your comments to:  David Bimber, Deputy Regional Permit Administrator, NYSDEC, 6274 East Avon-Lima Road, Avon, NY 14414-9516.

Inergy is a limited partnership developed to “acquire midstream energy assets.” They own and operate four natural gas storage facilities in NY and PA, with a combined gas storage capacity of 41 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Inergy also owns gas pipelines in NY and PA with 30 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) transportation capacity.

Their strategy, in their own words, is to “continue to develop a platform of interconnected natural gas assets that can be operated as an integrated Northeast storage and transportation hub”.

The Seneca Lake proposal

Inergy has proposed a new underground LPG storage facility for the storage and distribution of propane and butane on a portion of a 576 acre site located on NYS Routes 14 and 14A on the western shore of Seneca Lake. The storage facility will use existing caverns used by US Salt.

The company plans to store 2.10 million barrels (88.20 million gallons) of LPG in the salt caverns seasonally, displacing some of the brine currently filling them. The idea is to withdraw the fuel during the heating season.

During storage operations, the brine displaced by LPG will be stored and contained in a 14-acre double-lined surface impoundment with a capacity of 2.19 million barrels (91.98 million gallons) uphill of the facility.

The facility will connect to the existing TEPPCO LPG interstate pipeline, and will ship LPG by truck via NYS Routes 14/14A and rail via the existing Norfolk & Southern Railroad. The proposed project involves construction of a new rail and truck LPG transfer facility, consisting of a 6 rail siding capable of allowing loading/unloading of 24 rail cars within 12 hours, and a truck loading station capable of loading 4 trucks per hour.

Public concerns:
  • Residents are concerned about the large 14-acre brine pit.
  • They are concerned about the increased rail and truck traffic in a tourist area.
  • They are concerned about safety – and note that Inergy has refused to release details of their planned safety measures until after the permit is granted. One concern is the proximity to Watkins Glen.
  • They are concerned about air quality issues from the increased truck traffic and potential impacts of ground level ozone and other pollutants on wine grapes and other agricultural crops.
  • They are concerned about the impact of this industrialization on the tourism and wine industry.
  • They are concerned about the integrity of the brine pit in terms of “extraordinary” weather.
  • They would like Inergy and DEC to disclose the number of years of similarly-sized LNG storage facilities and the number of accidents and explosions, so that an honest evaluation can be made of the possible disaster.
You can read the Environmental Impact Statement for the project at Check out what my colleague, journalist Peter Mantius has to say about the project here.

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