Activist Calls For Cuomo to Intervene After Cargill Mine Spill

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Walter Hang, an environmental activist in Ithaca, is calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to require Cargill to change its mining operations under Cayuga Lake. 

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Media

Protesters float on Cayuga Lake in front of Cargill salt mining facility in Lansing, New York. They oppose Cargill conducting seismic testing on the lake. August 20, 2019. (Celia Clarke/WSKG)

Hang said he recently discovered documents detailing a number of unauthorized spills of toxic materials into Cayuga Lake. The most recent was earlier this year.

Cargill operates a salt mine on the lake just north of Ithaca in Lansing.

The spill early this year was of a salt anti-caking additive. The company notified the DEC when it happened. It said the additive is non-toxic when used properly.

But Hang said the spill was not adequately cleaned up and the DEC doesn’t do a good job of regulating Cargill’s mining practices.

“Cargill identified contamination in the ground that exceeded DEC’s applicable clean up requirements,”  Hang said. He thinks the DEC should have made Cargill do more.

Now, he wants Cuomo to take action.

“The time has come. Enough is enough,” he said. “Cargill has to move its mining of salt away from the lake. All the current salt mining is directly under the lake.”

Cargill disagrees with Hang’s assertion. “We immediately repaired and tested the pipe before returning it to service later in the day,” the company said in a statement. “In coordination with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, we took numerous actions to ensure the spill was properly cleaned up and regularly monitored the area to make sure there were no additional failures.”

Meanwhile, the DEC also said it has acted appropriately. “DEC immediately contacted both the Cayuga and Tompkins County Health Departments to ensure that there was no threat to drinking water or any other health concerns related to the incident,” the department said in a statement.