Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
At Industry’s Urging, Engineer Reverses Position on LPG Cavern Storage

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.—An Inergy LP official called a consulting engineer in January to urge him to recant decade-old negative conclusions about the structural integrity of a local salt cavern that the Kansas City energy company now plans to use to store liquid butane.

The engineer, Larry Sevenker of Kenner, La., produced a three-paragraph letter Jan. 15 to “set the record straight.” In an interview Feb. 3, Sevenker acknowledged that a company official helped him craft the letter and that he is still paid by the company.

Letter in hand, Inergy turned to M Public Affairs, a recently-hired public relations firm with close ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to disseminate it by making cold calls to upstate New York media outlets. Meanwhile, an attorney for Inergy, Kevin Bernstein of Syracuse, forwarded Sevenker’s letter to the state Department of Environmental Conservation with a cover letter that ended: “In short, Mr. Sevenker recognizes that his 2001 conclusion regarding a roof collapse was erroneous and effectively recants his inaccurate conclusion.”
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