FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—JUNE 1, 2015
Media Contact: Sandra Steingraber | 607.351.0719
Health Care Professionals Arrested in Civil Disobedience Blockade at Crestwood Midstream
Local Doctor, Midwives, Nurses Among 7 Arrested; Protesters Call Gas Storage at Seneca Lake a Public Health Menace
Watkins Glen, NY – Wearing surgical scrubs and lab coats, seven gas storage protesters led by area healthcare professionals—including family physician doctor Susan Soboroff, MD, midwife Monica Daniel, CNM, LM, OB-GYN nurse Mary Menapace, and psychiatric nurse practitioner Denise Kooperman, formed a human blockade shortly before 7:30 a.m. this morning at the north entrances of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14 and prevented all traffic from entering or leaving the site. It was an act of civil disobedience.
All seven were arrested at 8 AM by Schuyler County deputies, taken into custody, charged with both trespassing and disorderly conduct, and released.
The blockaders held banners that said, “Health Care Providers (& Patients) Against Crestwood” and “Our Health is Not Negotiable.”
Twenty other health providers and patients rallied near the highway at the site.
None of the protesters this morning had been previously arrested as part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which opposes Crestwood’s plans for methane storage expansion in lakeside salt caverns and which has been ongoing since October 2014.
The total number of arrests now stands at 279 in the seven-month-old civil disobedience campaign. In addition, at least 133 Seneca Lake Defenders have successfully blockaded for an entire day without being arrested.
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.
Mary Menapace, RN, delivered a short speech while blockading a truck attempting to exit, saying, “As a nurse, I work with pregnant women and children. There is a growing body of evidence, in a large part coming out of Colorado, suggesting that living near oil and gas build-out poses significant health risks. We know that all gas infrastructure is a leaky, messy business. We know the toxins, we know the devastating health effects of those toxins. I stand here for my patients, for my friends, for my daughters, and for the women and children and families who live here in the Glen. Message to Crestwood: Go Home to Texas. And evolve.”
Susan Soboroff, MD, said, “My kids and grandkids lives depend on what happens in this moment. I’m not giving this place up without a fight. The health of this region depends on what goes on here. We could lose the water supply for a whole region. That’s a public health crisis. That’s a crime.”
Monica Daniel, RN, CNM, LM, said, “I used to live in Watkins Glen, and Seneca Lake is precious to me. As a nurse-midwife, I am here to represent moms and babies and future generations to come. Pregnant moms and unborn babies need clean water.”
Denise Kooperman, NP, MACS, said, “I have lived in this area for 34 years and have raised four children here. I am also a psychiatric nurse practitioner and know that this facility is good for no one’s mental and emotional health. No one should live with the anxiety of impending accidents, gas leaks, and water contamination.”
Those arrested today were:
Marie Ely Baumgardner, 67, Burdett, Schuyler County
Monica Daniel, RN, CNM, LM, 54 Enfield, Tompkins County
Jacke Jablonski, 69, Ithaca, Tompkins County,
Denise Kooperman,NP, MACS, 68 Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Mary Menapace, 55, Skaneateles, Onondaga County
Susan Soberoff, MD, Ulysses, Tompkins County
Louise Sullivan-Blum, 54, Corning, Steuben County
Read more about the protesters at: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
Read more about widespread objections to Crestwood’s gas storage plans: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/nyregion/new-york-winemakers-fight-gas-storage-plan-near-seneca-lake.html?_r=0.
Background on the protests:
Protesters have been blocking the Crestwood gas storage facility gates since Thursday, October 23rd, including a rally with more than 200 people on Friday, October 24th. On Wednesday, October 29, Crestwood called the police and the first 10 protesters were arrested. More information and pictures of the actions are available at www.WeAreSenecaLake.com.
The unified We Are Seneca Lake protests started on October 23rd because Friday, October 24th marked the day that major new construction on the gas storage facility was authorized to begin. The ongoing acts of civil disobedience come after the community pursued every possible avenue to stop the project and after being thwarted by an unacceptable process and denial of science. The protests are taking place at the gates of the Crestwood compressor station site on the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes.
The methane gas storage expansion project is advancing in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. Crestwood has indicated that it intends to make Seneca Lake the gas storage and transportation hub for the northeast, as part of the gas industry’s planned expansion of infrastructure across the region.
*Note that the WE ARE SENECA LAKE protest is to stop the expansion of methane gas storage, a separate project from Crestwood’s proposed Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage project, which is on hold pending a Department of Environmental Conservation Issues Conference on February 12th.
As they have for a long time, the protesters are continuing to call on President Obama, U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo, and Congressman Reed to intervene on behalf of the community and halt the dangerous project. In spite of overwhelming opposition, grave geological and public health concerns, Crestwood has federal approval to move forward with plans to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the west side of Seneca Lake. While the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has temporarily halted plans to stockpile propane and butane (LPG) in nearby caverns—out of ongoing concerns for safety, health, and the environment—Crestwood is actively constructing infrastructure for the storage of two billion cubic feet of methane (natural gas), with the blessing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
More background, including about the broad extent of the opposition from hundreds of wineries and more than a dozen local municipalities, is available on the We Are Seneca Lake website at http://www.wearesenecalake.com/press-kit/.
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