I first met Joe Bucci, Sr. at the 2012 York Boys Basketball Season banquet. On that historical year, the team earned their first Sectional title since the 1930’s, it was an unusually warm winter. The snow plow trucks were only called out once the entire season, which meant business was bad for the American Rock Salt mine and its employees. Mr. Bucci, Vice Chairman of the mine, was there to recognize the kids’ achievements, and despite the tough economical times at the mine that year, Mr. Bucci’s company made a sizable donation to the athletic program.
The Bucci family and their ties to York span five generations. Mr. Bucci’s father died in a mining accident at the AkzoNobel mine. His son Joe Bucci, Jr. is the environmental manager at American Rock Salt. The Bucci family’s contributions to this community and the jobs they have provided to miners in Genesee Valley, have not received the recognition they clearly deserve. They are indeed a special family.
Mr. Bucci’s success story includes his time as a teacher at York Central School District and his venture into the real estate business where he focused on buying mineral rights for mining. These ties and contributions to the community by the Bucci’s make American Rock Salt an entirely different kind of business than the former mine, owned by AkzoNobel that collapsed in 1994.
I’m going to blunt in this statement but, AkzoNobel continues to urinate on Genesee Valley and the dedicated workers from the area with their most recent debacle at the desalination plant. Since 2008, they have been pumping and desalinating salt water…and then selling it to other municipalities to spread on the road. They deeded back the mineral rights to many land-owners after the collapse. If they deeded the mineral rights back to the land-owner, why do they have the right to be selling the salt from under their property? This company has no respect for the landowners of Genesee Valley and no respect for the environment and our natural resources.
The now unplugged desalination plant, thanks to the help of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, has permitted this closure with zero accountability or revenue that we know of, to be set aside in case of future issues at the former mine. We, as residents of the County and Western New York, will now sit on top of this mine with our fingers crossed and hope for the best. The experts at the recent community forum said it themselves—in geology everything is theoretical until it happens.
That’s the difference when you have local ownership and responsible members of the community being leaders compared to European owners with absolutely no concern for what happens in Genesee Valley. Cuomo keeps playing dodgeball on the Hydrofracking issue while rumors run rampant on his desire for the White House bid. His atrocious handling of the AkzoNobel desalination plant and its insurer Zurich leave me zero confidence that Cuomo will look out for our natural resources and look out for what’s best for Western New York.
What is best for Western New York is an owner like Joe Bucci. They understand and give back to our community. Their grandchildren go to school here. They have been mining for five generations in Genesee Valley. Some hot shot who thinks he is Daniel Day Lewis in the movie “Let there be Blood” isn’t going to cut it for us in Genesee Valley. When proper owners with a sound record for environmentalism do emerge, we should be welcoming and work with them so that their business can be as successful as possible. Politically-driven agendas from our Town Supervisors and local planning boards need to be checked.
The success of American Rock Salt is a testament to its ownership and our mining tradition. Mining is a tough business, and a dangerous business. Responsible owners with a concern for their workforce are a proven success at American Rock Salt. Whoever comes into frack, which I think is inevitable, I hope they do so with the same attitude that the Bucci’s use at American Rock Salt.