- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) - Protests at a natural gas storage facility in a depleted Finger Lakes salt mine on Wednesday led to the arrests of 10 people, including a leader of the anti-fracking movement in New York.

Joseph Campbell of We Are Seneca Lake said the group has been blocking gates each day since Thursday at Houston-based Crestwood Midstream’s operations in Watkins Glen. They’re opposed to Crestwood’s planned expansion of natural gas storage in depleted salt mines. The expansion has Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval.

Opponents say the natural gas storage project and another to store propane in salt caverns would bring heavy industry, truck traffic and a risk of disastrous accidents to a region that thrives on tourism, agriculture and winemaking.

Schuyler County Sheriff William Yessman said the protesters were charged with trespassing. Seven were also charged with disorderly conduct. They’ll answer the charges in Town of Reading Court on Nov. 5.

Among those arrested was Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and author who is co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York, a group opposed to shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing. The practice, also known as fracking, hasn’t been permitted in New York since state officials started an environmental review in 2008.

“What we are attempting is to put a halt to methane storage, which can be inherently dangerous,” Steingraber told the Elmira Star-Gazette after her arrest Wednesday (https://stargaz.tt/1pZDYYV ). “We hope that by showing the depth of our resistance, we can shine a spotlight on this menace in our community. This is just the first step in an enduring campaign.”

Steingraber was also arrested at the Crestwood site in March 2013 and served 10 days in jail rather than pay a fine.

A Crestwood spokesman said no date has been set for the start of construction of its expanded natural gas storage facility.


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