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PO Box 43

Watkins Glen, NY 14891

PO Box 333
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

2421 Main St., Suite 100


Buffalo, NY 14214

December 22, 2016


The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, New York 12224
Re: PHMSA Interim Final Rule for Safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities:
Safety Implications for Proposed Natural Gas and LPG Facilities in Schuyler County
Dear Governor Cuomo,
On December 19, 2016, the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
(PHMSA) published its Interim Final Rule (IFR) for the Safety of Underground Natural
Gas Storage Facilities.1 PHMSA developed the IFR pursuant to the SAFE PIPES Act,2 enacted
earlier this year following the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history at the Aliso Canyon storage
field in Porter Ranch, California. That leak started in October 2015 and was not stopped until
February 2016, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes.3 The IFR establishes the
first-ever federal minimum standards for the construction and operation of underground natural
gas storage facilities, to reduce the risk of future accidents from these types of facilities.
We write to you today because the natural gas storage facility proposed for construction
by Crestwood Midstream, LP (Crestwood) in the salt caverns beneath the shores of Seneca
Lake in Schuyler County does not, as proposed, appear to meet some of the minimum safety
requirements established in the IFR. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
initially approved that facility in May 2014, and in May 2016 FERC extended the construction
deadline to May 2018.4 Construction has not yet begun, however, because the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has not issued the underground storage
permit for the facility.5 We urge DEC not to grant that permit.
To illustrate the importance of DEC withholding this permit, publicly available
information indicates that the caverns proposed for use do not meet some of the minimum safety

1

Pipeline Safety: Safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities, Interim Final Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. 91,860
(Dec. 19, 2016).
2
Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act, Public Law No: 114-183 (SAFE PIPES
Act) (2016).
3
Paige St. John, Utility wants to resume pumping natural gas into Aliso Canyon facility that was site of massive
leak, LOS ANGELES TIMES (Nov. 1, 2016) available at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-porter-ranch20161101-story.html.
4
See Arlington Storage Co., LLC, 147 FERC 61,120 (May 15, 2014); see also Order Granting Extension of Time,
155 FERC 61,165 (May 16, 2016) (hereinafter Order Granting Extension of Time).
5
Request for Extension of Time to Construct Jurisdictional Facilities, Arlington Storage Co., LLC, Docket No.
CP13-83-000, (Jan. 28, 2016) (hereinafter Request for Extension of Time).

standards established in the IFR.6 Because the IFR standards for the construction of new
facilities do not take effect until July 18, 2017, however, Crestwood would be exempt from these
minimum safety standards if allowed to build that facility before that date.7 This outcome should
be avoided, and we hope that you will support our efforts before FERC to have approval of this
project rescinded.8
For example, as adopted by the IFR, the API RP 1170 standards for cavern integrity at
salt formation storage facilities, such as those proposed for use by Crestwood beneath Seneca
Lake, mandate:

that the salt cavern be developed so that sharp corners or ledges that produce stress
concentrations are avoided,9
that the salt caverns be designed with an arched roof and smooth cavern shoulders,10
that maps and data used to characterize the geology, including rubble zones, be
internally consistent,11 and
that the gas storage caverns be sufficiently remote from the top and base of salt.12

The IFR also indicates that salt pillar widths should be of at least two to three times the
average maximum diameter of adjacent caverns for safe cavern spacing.13
Public records show that some of the caverns proposed for use by Crestwood have flat
roofs and are insufficiently removed from the base of salt,14 have irregular shapes and
overhanging ledges;15 may be spaced too closely to meet the pillar spacing requirement;16 and
have incomplete and/or inconsistent characterization of rubble volumes.17 These records alone
suggest that under the new federal minimum standards, the salt caverns beneath Seneca Lake are
unsuitable for natural gas storage.
FERC initially granted approval to Crestwood for the construction of the natural gas
storage facility in May 2014, conditioned on construction being completed by May 2016.18 API

6

Interim Final Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. at 91,861 (the standards established by the IFR incorporate by reference the
standards set forth in the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1170).
7
Interim Final Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. at 91,873 (Each underground natural gas storage facility that uses a solution
mined salt cavern reservoir for gas storage constructed after July 18, 2017 must meet all requirements and
recommendations of API RP 1170 (incorporated by reference, see 192.7)).
8
See Petition for Rehearing of Gas Free Seneca of Order Granting Extension of Time for Gallery 2 Expansion
Project, Docket No. CP13-83-000 (June 15, 2016); see also, Letter from Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to FERC
(Aug. 19, 2016) (restating constituent concerns regarding adverse impacts that the proposed facility could have on
public health, safety, the environment and quality of life requesting that FERC give the appeal of Gas Free Seneca
appropriate and thorough consideration.).
9
API RP 1170 Section 5.5.2.
10
API RP 1170 Section 5.5.2; see also API RP 1170 Section 8.2.2.4 (allowing an exception only for thin bedded salt
caverns if they meet other requirements, including appropriate salt layer thickness to support the overlying bedrock).
11
API RP 1170 Section 5.3.4.1, which would include maps and data, such as rubble zones as a data component.
12
API RP 1170 Section 5.2.2.
13
API RP 1170 Section 5.5.3.
14
See, e.g., Vertical Section A-A(West-East), South Brine Field Seneca Storage Galleries 1 and 2 and Well 58,
Inergy / Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC, 8/28/14 (A-A Section) (Cavern 30/30A).
15
See e.g., Id., Cavern 31/31A as shown in A-A Section.
16
Id. (in at least one Section, the diameter of Caverns 30/30A and 31/31A (200) appears to be less than the closest
distance between them (210), as shown in A-A Section).
17
See, Jacoby, C.H., Storage of Hydrocarbons in Bedded Salt Deposits Formed by Hydraulic Fracturing,
Proceedings of the Third Symposium on Salt, Cleveland, Ohio, 463-469 (1969b) (for comparison of maps of cavern
rubble in the caverns proposed for use by Crestwood as documented by Jacoby with those from similar time-periods
as submitted by Crestwood and depicted in A-A Section).
18
Order Issuing Certificate Authority and Reaffirming Market Based Rates, 147 FERC 61,120 (May 15, 2014).

RP 1170 (adopted by reference in the IFR) was published in July 2015,19 meaning that these
industry recommended practices had not been published when the project was initially evaluated
and approved by FERC. Because construction on the facility has not yet begun, FERC should
reexamine its approval and rescind the certificate approval based on the facilitys inability to
meet all minimum federal safety requirements.
In fact, FERC had the opportunity to do this when Crestwood requested an extension of
time to construct the facility in January 2016, citing its failure to secure the necessary
underground storage permit from DEC.20 To our knowledge, despite the API RP 1170 having
been available for 6 months, FERC did not require and Crestwood did not offer, updated
information to demonstrate that the facility would conform with those recommended practices.
FERC subsequently granted Crestwoods request for the extension earlier this year21 despite
Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand informing FERC that new federal
regulations under consideration to address the safety of natural gas storage could have a
substantial impact on a variety of constituent concerns and the way this facility would operate.22
The issuance of the IFR shows that Crestwood should not be allowed to construct this facility.
Related to the natural gas storage project is Crestwoods proposal to construct a liquid
petroleum gas (LPG) storage facility in salt caverns closely adjacent to the caverns proposed
for natural gas storage.23 DEC is currently reviewing this proposal. While the PHMSA IFR
legally applies only to natural gas storage facilities, we hope that New York will look to the
federal standards for guidance in considering whether New York jurisdictional facilities are
being evaluated based on the best available information about minimum construction and
operational standards for underground storage. As exemplified by the natural gas and LPG
proposals for this location, these two forms of storage would utilize similar geology, technology,
infrastructure, training, and personnel, but unfortunately have had similar adverse safety track
records.24 The consequences of an accident at this facility are compounded by its location on the
shores of Seneca Lake and proximity to Watkins Glen. Accordingly, the LPG storage proposal
should be evaluated based on the best available information and most stringent safety standards
available. The minimum safety standards established in the IFR are the most up to date standards
available and they strongly suggest that these caverns are also unsuitable for LPG storage.
For instance, while less information on the shapes and distances of caverns proposed for
LPG storage has been publicly released, the information that is available indicates that the
caverns proposed for LPG storage would not meet certain standards established in the IFR. For
example, one cavern proposed for LPG storage is out-of-salt.25 Further, the IFR requires tri
19

Interim Final Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. at 91,861.


Request for Extension of Time at 3.
21
Order Granting Extension of Time.
22
Letter from Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to FERC (Mar. 22, 2016), Docket No. CP 13-83-000; see also
Docket No. CP 13-83-000 for comments of Gas Free Seneca, the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition, the SEIU
1199 Health Care Workers East, and hundreds of residents and businesses.
23
The natural gas storage facility is proposed by Arlington Storage, LLC. The LPG storage facility is proposed by
Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC. Arlington Storage, LLC and Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC are both subsidiaries
of Crestwood.
24
See, Evans, D.J. Health and Safety Executive of the United Kingdom, An Appraisal of Underground Gas Storage
Technologies and Incidents, for the Development of Risk Assessment Methodology (2008); see also, Underground
Natural Gas Storage and Public Safety, submitted by Gas Free Seneca to PHSMA (Sept. 19, 2016), available at
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=PHMSA-2016-0023-0008.
25
See, In the Matter of the Application of Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC for a Permit to Construct and Operate an
Underground Liquid Petroleum Gas Storage Facility, Petition for Full Party Status by Gas Free Seneca, Exhibit 1,
Cavern Integrity Analysis, Finger Lakes Storage, LLC, (Jan. 15, 2015) at 18-20 (Figure 7 markup from FLLPG
20

axial (3D) stress-testing of salt samples to determine the strength of the salt caverns,26 but
there is no publicly available documentation that this has been performed by Crestwood on these
caverns.27 It also appears that the spacing between caverns is inadequate to meet the federal
minimum safety requirements.28
We hope that DEC will give all of the minimum standards established in IFR full
consideration when evaluating both of these proposals. The Aliso Canyon incident is a sober
reminder that accidents happen. The safety standards established by PHMSA are intended to
reduce the probability of future accidents, like Aliso Canyon, by ensuring that new facilities are
constructed according to minimum safety standards, and that all facilities (existing and new)
meet minimum operational safety standards. The standards established in the IFR suggest that
significant and material risk factors have not been evaluated pursuant to minimum standards
intended to protect public health and safety and environmental resources. The available
information indicates that the salt caverns beneath Seneca Lake are not suitable for natural gas
and LPG storage.
We appreciate DECs close scrutiny of these proposals and are hopeful that the
application of the minimum federal safety standards will lead to the conclusion that these
facilities should not be constructed on Seneca Lake. Thank you for your continued attention to
these issues.
Respectfully,
/s/Scott Osborn
Scott Osborn
President, Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition
Email: scott.osborn@foxrunvineyards.com
/s/ Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
President, Gas Free Seneca
Email: muchado2@gmail.com
/s/ Todd Hobler
Todd Hobler
Vice President, SEIU 1199 United Health Care Workers East
Email: todd.hobler@1199.org
Cc: Kate Dineen, Assistant Secretary for the Environment
Venetia Lannon, Deputy Secretary for the Environment

Section A-A, and stating Cavern 58 extends to the Camillus shale; there is no salt layer to provide support for the
roof). See also, Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC, Site Operations Plan (Aug. 8, 2016) (showing Well 58 as
(EXISTING) BACKPUP WELL).
26
API RP 1170 Section 5.4.2.5.
27
DSEIS, Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC, LPG Storage Facility, August 2011.
28
See, e.g., Jacoby, C.H., Recovery of Entrapped Hydrocarbons, Fourth International Symposium on Salt
Northern Ohio Geological Society (1973) (showing irregularly shaped Gallery 1 caverns and rubble piles); see also,
Arlington Storage Company, LLC Application for Certificate of Public Necessity, Docket CP 13-83 (Feb. 26, 2013).