LIVINGSTON COUNTY – After months of intense negotiations, the Livingston County Board of Supervisors finally sealed the deal on the $20 million law suit against the AkzoNobel salt mine in a ten-minute, special-term meeting on Tuesday.
All present Town Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the proposed Order of Consent and Administrative Settlement Agreement with AkzoNobel, Inc. and the State of New York, requiring, in short, that AkzoNobel shut down and remove all pumping and desalination facilities associated with the Brine Mitigation Project in Cuylerville, and pay Livingston county $17 million.
“Time is everything, and moving the plant is priority,” said County Administrator Ian Coyle. “AzkoNobel has to get everything shut down and out within six months.”
The removal of the desalination plant, which until now has helped desalinate their collapsed salt mine, will have ripple effects throughout the local mining industry. Once the plant is gone, it can no longer be used to treat toxic fluid byproducts from hydrofracking, which the insurer has admitted to doing previously without any notification of or consent by the county.
Further negotiations concluded that the $20 million will be split into four parts, with four different functions and safeguards. $11 million is for county water supply infrastructure; $5 million is for surface water treatment, $1 million is for environmental insurance, and the remaining $3 million goes to the state for groundwater monitoring.
A key part of the agreement for AkzoNobel is that no government entity can now sue them for any future incidents or complaints associated with their (now forfeit) facility or grounds. However, Coyle explained that in that case, the State or the $1 million set aside by the county as “Environmental Insurance” stand as primary protectors, and private entities would still be able to sue.
Leicester Town Supervisor Lisa Semmel thanked everyone for coming together on this issue, and indicated that Leicester does want to keep some of AkzoNobel’s buildings that are not directly used for pumping or desalinization, like cover-all buildings.
County Chairman Eric Gott also thanked everyone present for working together, and thanked the media for enabling public interaction on the matter.
“I would like to thank the local media,” said Gott. “Without them, there would have been no way for the public to contact us as supervisors. There was no time to organize and finalize public forums or meetings. Thank you all and Happy Holidays.”
PHOTO CAPTION: County Chairman Eric Gott at Thursday’s special meeting. (Photo/Conrad Baker)