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Watkins Glen, NY – Wearing surgical scrubs and lab coats, seven gas storage protesters led by area healthcare professionals formed a human blockade shortly before 7:30 a.m. this morning at the north entrances of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14 and prevented all traffic from entering or leaving the site. It was an act of civil disobedience.

All seven were arrested at 8 AM by Schuyler County deputies, taken into custody, charged with both trespassing and disorderly conduct, and released.

Those arrested today were:
— Marie Ely Baumgardner, 67, Burdett, Schuyler County
— Monica Daniel, RN, CNM, LM, 54 Enfield, Tompkins County
— Jacke Jablonski, 69, Ithaca, Tompkins County,
— Denise Kooperman,NP, MACS, 68 Trumansburg, Tompkins County
— Mary Menapace, 55, Skaneateles, Onondaga County
— Susan Soberoff, MD, Ulysses, Tompkins County

— Louise Sullivan-Blum, 54, Corning, Steuben County

The blockaders held banners that said, “Health Care Providers (& Patients) Against Crestwood” and “Our Health is Not Negotiable.”

Twenty other health providers and patients rallied near the highway at the site.

None of the protesters this morning had been previously arrested as part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which opposes Crestwood’s plans for methane storage expansion in lakeside salt caverns and which has been ongoing since October 2014.

The total number of arrests now stands at 279 in the seven-month-old civil disobedience campaign. In addition, at least 133 Seneca Lake Defenders have successfully blockaded for an entire day without being arrested.

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Mary Menapace, RN, delivered a short speech while blockading a truck attempting to exit, saying, “As a nurse, I work with pregnant women and children. There is a growing body of evidence, in a large part coming out of Colorado, suggesting that living near oil and gas build-out poses significant health risks. We know that all gas infrastructure is a leaky, messy business. We know the toxins, we know the devastating health effects of those toxins. I stand here for my patients, for my friends, for my daughters, and for the women and children and families who live here in the Glen. Message to Crestwood: Go Home to Texas. And evolve.”
Susan Soboroff, MD, said, “My kids and grandkids lives depend on what happens in this moment. I’m not giving this place up without a fight. The health of this region depends on what goes on here. We could lose the water supply for a whole region. That’s a public health crisis. That’s a crime.”
Monica Daniel, RN, CNM, LM, said, “I used to live in Watkins Glen, and Seneca Lake is precious to me. As a nurse-midwife, I am here to represent moms and babies and future generations to come. Pregnant moms and unborn babies need clean water.”
Denise Kooperman, NP, MACS, said, “I have lived in this area for 34 years and have raised four children here. I am also a psychiatric nurse practitioner and know that this facility is good for no one’s mental and emotional health. No one should live with the anxiety of impending accidents, gas leaks, and water contamination.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.