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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Watkins Glen gas storage project gets OK

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  • A company’s plan to expand its natural gas storage facility near Watkins Glen has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
    The facility is owned by Crestwood (previously Inergy, before a corporate merger).
    The gas storage facility - acquired several years ago from NYSEG - uses salt caverns beneath the U.S. Salt plant on Seneca Lake to store natural gas. The facility hooks up with the Dominion and Millenium pipeline systems.
    Crestwood won federal approval to expand the working gas capacity from 1.45 billion cubic feet to 2 billion cubic feet by expanding into unused salt caverns, and to build related infrastructure on the site.
    Crestwood emailed the following statement Thursday to The Leader:
    “We are excited that the FERC has authorized the expansion of our natural gas storage facility. This critical energy infrastructure project is designed to achieve the highest levels of safety and regulatory compliance, and its authorization is consistent with the fact that natural gas has been stored and transported safely in the Finger Lakes region for decades. We look forward to providing increased reliability and balancing services to the Northeast demand market with this expansion capacity.”
    Crestwood also plans to build a large-scale LPG storage and distribution facility nearby.
    That project - which has generated fierce local opposition since it was proposed in 2009 due to concerns about safety and impact on local wine and tourism industry - remains under review by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
    Joseph Campbell, co-founder of Gas Free Seneca - a group of area residents and business owners opposed to both Crestwood projects - emailed a statement expressing disappointment with FERC’s approval of the gas facility expansion.
    “We are outraged by FERC’s decision and it proves our point that FERC rubber stamps anything related to natural gas. In approving this expansion they ignored the very real concerns of, not one, but two PhD geologists regarding the stability of the salt caverns on the western shore of Seneca Lake,” Campbell said. “This cavalier decision puts at risk the safety of thousands of area residents, hundreds of thousands of tourists and a drinking water supply for 100,000 people.”
    Campbell said the gas storage expansion still needs an underground storage permit from the state DEC, and called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to deny the permit.

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