Solution Salt Mining in New York
Kathleen F. Sanford
Presented at joint meeting of New York State Geological Association and Eastern Section--American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Bedded subsurface salt was first solution mined in New York in a well drilled for oil or gas in Wyoming County in 1878. The salt occurs in the Silurian Syracuse and Vernon formations at depths of 500 to 4000 feet, with a net aggregate salt thickness of up to 800 feet. There are currently five solution mining facilities in New York producing over two billion gallons of saturated brine, or over 2.4 million metric tons of salt, per year. Subsurface cavern development techniques used at these facilities include hydrofracturing, horizontal drilling, and roof padding. Chemical, pharmaceutical, and food-grade salt are all produced by the solution mining method in New York.
Solution mining wells in New York are regulated by both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The primary goals of regulating subsurface operations at solution mining facilities are protection of aquifers and prevention of damaging or catastrophic subsidence. Modern methods of well construction and operation, cavern development, and well plugging ensure attainment of these environmental objectives.
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