Salamanca officials support SNI, county opposition to fracking plant 3/21/2018

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Salamanca officials support SNI, county opposition to fracking plant

  • By Kellen M. Quigley, News Editor
Salamanca Common Council
Salamanca Mayor Michael Smith (right) explains the potential dangers to the Allegheny River if a wastewater plant were built in Coudersport, Pa., during a Common Council meeting Wednesday.

Press photo by Kellen M. Quigley

SALAMANCA — The Salamanca Common Council have officially announced their support of efforts to stop the dumping of wastewater produced by fracking into the Allegheny River through a treatment plan in Pennsylvania.

In a statement at Wednesday’s meeting, council member Timothy Flanigan, R-Ward 2, said the council supports efforts made by the Seneca Nation of Indians and Cattaraugus County toward stopping the discharge of pollutants and wastewater into the river.

“For us, it’s really a no-brainer,” said Mayor Michael Smith. “The river is one of our shining gems of the city. And once again, the city stands behind the Seneca Nation.”

Epiphany Allegheny LLC recently proposed to building a fracking wastewater treatment facility on the Allegheny River in Coudersport, Pa.

There are concerns by Nation and county officials alike that the 43,000 gallons of treated water that would be discharged every day into the headwaters of the river would include radioactive nuclides, which would then settle into the sediment of the river basin.

The river flows from Pennsylvania through the southern part of Cattaraugus County including the Portville, Olean, Allegany and Salamanca communities, as well as the Seneca Allegany Territory.

“The dumb thing is it starts in Pennsylvania, goes into New York and then back into Pennsylvania and right into Pittsburgh,” said council member Michael Lonto, R-Ward 3.

Reading the resolution, Flanigan said the city of Salamanca urges its congressional and state representatives to intercede with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and request that the EPA report to them on their response and adaptations regarding the concerns.

“The city of Salamanca mayor and council hereby strongly urges the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection not to issue a discharge permit to Epiphany Allegany, LLC’s project in Coudersport, Pa., until such time as studies conclusively indicate that there are no contaminants in the discharge,” he said.

Flanigan said after he saw the county legislature planned to pass a similar resolution this week, he reached out to Susan Labuhn, D-Salamanca, to see if Salamanca’s council could pass their own resolution based on the county’s.

“I asked if we could get a copy of that resolution and then be able to modify it as we need it for the city of Salamanca,” he said.

The mayor said the position of the Kinzua Dam and the Allegheny Reservoir slows down the river’s flow making it easier for the discharge and contaminants to settle in the river on the Allegany Reservation and in Salamanca.

“If you believe that Epiphany is going to work 100 percent and believe that they say none of the water after they treat it will be dumped into the river, OK. But as soon as the power goes out in Coudersport, they get a foot of rain or a foot snow melts, that treatment plant will be overwhelmed and that stuff will be running directly into the river untreated,” he said.

The resolution reads that the city values its rivers and streams, which provide habitat to a vast array of wildlife that “depend on a healthy and clean environment.” The city also promotes recreational use of the Allegheny River as a tourist destination, investing in better access to the river for boating and fishing, it states.

“If radiation goes into that river, it’s going to be in there, to quote the Seneca Nation, ‘for seven generations and beyond,’” Smith said.

(Contact reporter Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Kellen_Quigley)