Desalinization plant confirms shutdown

Without significant forewarning about the shutdown of the AkzoNobel Desalination Plant in Leicester, N.Y., Livingston County residents were cautious to believe the various rumors circulating about its closure. The owners of the plant are confident in their decision to close their doors, according to Communication Manager for AkzoNobel North America Jeroen Pul. In an email to the Genesee Sun, Pul said the test revealed that, if pumping is stopped, brine exiting the mine will not affect any source of water currently used for drinking or irrigation now or in the future.

Public drinking water is typically drawn from the middle and upper aquifers, away from the “brine that exits the mine … in the deep aquifer, which is too far below the surface to be used for wells for drinking water or irrigation,” Pul said. “In addition, the deep aquifer is not a reservoir of fresh water – it is a large layer of rock, sand, gravel and dirt that is permeated with water and has pockets of brine and brackish water that are naturally present.”

According to Pul, AkzoNobel is positive its decision to cease pumping brine from the facility will not have negative effects on either the community or the environment.

“If the pumping is stopped, there will be no impact on the surface, the upper and middle aquifers, or any water used today, or likely ever to be used in the future, for drinking water and irrigation,” Pul said.

A test conducted under the Order on Consent with the State Department of Environmental Conservation provided the reasoning behind the decision to shut down.

“The test also demonstrated that this approach to controlling the brine emerging from the mine is not practical, cost-effective or sustainable for the more than 2,000 years that brine will be exiting the mine,” he said. “Therefore AkzoNobel will stop the pumping when the Consent Order ends or a settlement is reached with the state.”

Since opening in 2004, the AkzoNobel Plant has served to clean salt from water pumping out of a collapsed salt mine, eliminating any contamination from Livingston County faucets.

The extension’s contract of the Order on Consent runs until Tuesday Oct. 15, but Pul said that brine will continue to pump from the facility until all state negotiations are completed.

They also plan to continue contributing to the Livingston County community instead of completely withdrawing their services.

According to Pul, AkzoNobel proposes to make a “substantial lump-sum payment to the state” to be used to fund “useful public works projects” in Livingston County.

Pul said that negotiations with the state are still in effect, so no details are yet set in stone.