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mailmanBarbara Lifton, among others, keeps getting away with referring to the mine collapse in Retsof, NY as a good argument for closing Lansing's salt mine. Another writer shocked me by saying a plus for mining beneath the lake risks damage "only" the "the lake floor." Really? That would be an "only?" No, that would be a worse catastrophe than a collapse over dry land. Good thing we don't have to worry about it.

I lived near Retsof while the mine was still open and some caveins had already happened. That mine was much, much closer to the surface, and salt was extracted from tunnels with too much ceiling span. To cite Retsof is comparing apples to hickory nuts, and irresponsibly alarmist.

Cayuga Lake is around 400 feet deep. The mine is about half a mile down. For proportion, imagine a city block of stone three stories high. Now carve a narrow groove in the top, about six feet deep. That's Cayuga Lake. Then go below that block and carve a tunnel about an inch in diameter. Is that block going to cave in? Please.

Then we hear, "But, but, plate techtonics!" Oh, boy. This is starting to sound desperate. Yes, plate techtonics exert truly incredible sideways forces. Incredibly slowly. Iceland, one of the most geologically active places on the planet, sends tourists into volcano tubes to have a look, and right into the rift between the North American and Eurasian plates. It's a slomo show. By the time the plate involving Cargill's mine moves an inch, we'll be long gone.

I can't help wondering whether the hue and cry to close Lansing's salt mine really comes from environmental concern.

Jim Evans
Lansing NY
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