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Concerns mount over Cargill’s Cayuga Lake salt mine sale

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  • Staff Report 

Local leaders, residents, and environmental advocates joined forces on Wednesday, urging New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to intervene in the impending sale of Cargill’s Lansing salt mine, located beside Cayuga Lake.

This mine, North America’s deepest salt extraction facility, has garnered criticism over concerns of increasing salinity in Cayuga Lake, jeopardizing its ecosystem and the drinking water of over 100,000 residents.

Critics argue the salt mine, owned by Cargill—a conglomerate often criticized for environmental and labor issues—has operated with minimal regulatory oversight, potentially endangering the region’s $3 billion tourism sector.

Stephanie Redmond, Environmental Researcher at Cayuga Lake Environmental Action Now (CLEAN), highlighted the necessity for the Governor’s intervention, underscoring the risks involved in Cargill’s clandestine sale endeavors.

Similarly, state leaders, including NYS Senator Lea Webb and Assembly Member Anna Kelles, called for a comprehensive independent environmental review prior to any sale. Their concerns echoed worries of possible ecological disruptions from mining operations, including water and air quality impacts and potential harm to aquatic life. Cayuga Lake, a cornerstone of the Finger Lakes region, is integral to local tourism, particularly its flourishing wine industry.

CLEAN, an Ithaca-based advocacy group, stressed the urgent need for transparency in any sale proceedings and the importance of state and public oversight. They, along with other concerned entities, are demanding Cargill pledge a $10 billion bond to cover potential environmental risks of freshwater salt mining. The goal is to ensure any sale prioritizes the lake’s health and the surrounding community, with comprehensive evaluations examining the broader environmental implications.