Geneseo, N.Y. – Lawmakers in Albany are entertaining the idea of shutting off the pumps at a desalination plant in Livingston County. In 1994, the Restof Salt Mine collapsed creating millions of gallons of brine. The State DEC ordered mine owner AkzoNobel to create a desalination plant at the site to keep the brine from contaiminating an aquapher that provides the water for most of the county.
Now AkzoNobel and the State Department of Conservation are discussing siesing the operation of the desalination plant, but have yet ti consult the local lawmakers in Livingston County.
“The desalinization facility is essential to a safe water supply for the residents and farms in Livingston County, and we cannot do anything to compromise that,” says Assemblyman Bill Nojay. “Due to the public health implications of possible changes to the facility, any move should be preceded by scientific studies and a full public hearing.”
In March of 1994, the mine was the largest salt mine in the United States. One of the mine’s chambers collapsed and over the next two years millions of gallons of water poured into the mine causing sinkholes and the lowering of the aquifer making many of the wells in the county useless. In response to fears that the brine created in the mine would soak into the aquifer the desalination plant was created and began operations in 2006.
Published in February, scientists found that the brine would not contaminate the water and that it would take more than 2,000 years for the desalination plant to fully treat the brine solution.
“Rather than continue the pumping, which serves no further useful purpose, AkzoNobel proposes to make a substantial lump-sum payment to the State to be used to fund useful public works projects in Livingston County,” says spokesman Jeroen Pul. “All the scientists are in agreement that, if the pumping is stopped, there will be no impact on the surface, the upper and middle aquifers, or any water used today, or likely ever to be used in the future, for drinking water and irrigation.”
The consent agreement between the New York State and AkzoNobel ends Tuesday, however AkzoNobel will continue to operate the desalination plant until a new agreement is reached.