- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Opponents of a proposed propane storage facility in the Finger Lakes say they’ll continue to fight the project despite the company’s proposal to downsize it in response to community concerns.

In a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation on Monday, Houston-based Crestwood Midstream Partners proposed changes to the Seneca Lake project that include elimination of rail and truck shipment facilities, no butane storage, and resources to monitor and improve water quality in the lake.

In response to public comments about noise, air pollution, potential accidents and increased traffic related to rail and truck shipments to and from the storage site, Crestwood proposes to transport propane only through the existing Teppco pipeline.

“We’re pleased to have collaborated with local stakeholders to support modifications that reduce our project’s impact on the environment, while still helping propane consumers and creating jobs and tax base for local communities,” Crestwood Vice President Brad Bacon said Wednesday.

The opposition group Gas Free Seneca, which includes numerous winemakers in the region, said in a statement that it is resolved to stop the project completely, saying it’s unsafe and inconsistent with the character of Seneca Lake communities.

“A fossil fuel project in abandoned salt caverns along a drinking water resource for 100,000 people, with serious unresolved questions about cavern integrity, salinization of the lake, risks of fire, explosion, and in the midst of a global climate crisis, is profoundly unacceptable, despite the changes proposed by Crestwood,” Joseph Campbell, president of Gas Free Seneca, said Wednesday.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has been considering a permit application for the propane storage facility since 2009. DEC spokesman Sean Mahar said Wednesday the agency will consider the proposed changes in the administrative hearing process currently underway.

The Schuyler County Legislature passed a resolution Monday night urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow DEC to approve the project. Thirty-two other municipalities around Seneca Lake have passed resolutions opposing Crestwood’s plans.

A separate permit for expansion of natural gas storage in lakeside salt caverns has received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval, but Crestwood sought and received a two-year extension in May. Since FERC approved the expansion in October 2014, hundreds of protesters have been arrested for blocking Crestwood’s gates to prevent construction from proceeding.

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