Supervisors demand earthquake investigation


By David Avitabile

Schoharie County supervisors have asked for a thorough investigation into the September 26 earthquake that originated below the reservoir.
Supervisors Friday approved a resolution calling for the New York Power Authority to pay for a study by Robert D. Jacobi, a geology professor at SUNY Buffalo.
The September 26 earthquake struck at about 11:30 and measured 3.0 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was eight miles below the western side of the upper reservoir of the state Power Authority's pumped storage project located along the Gilboa-Blenheim town line.
Dr. Jacobi is a "structural geologist and the pre-eminent authority on faults and earthquakes on the eastern North American continent," according to the board's resolution.
The investigation would hopefully determine the cause and implications of the recent earthquake and its possible effect on the earthworks at the DEP dam at Gilboa.
An earthquake and major weather event could greatly increase the stress on the facility and if either of the embankments of the three reservoirs failed, "it would cause devastation to the entire Schoharie Valley and beyond."
The study would address three concerns of county officials, which are: determine the origin and the impact of the quake on the Blenheim-Gilboa facility and the DEP dam at Gilboa; "mute superficial assurances that the earthquake was of little significance, until the true facts are known; and, noting that a nearby earthquake struck just before Hurricane Irene, assess the effect on the facilities if both occurred at the same time.
Blenheim resident Gail Shaffer applauded the board's action.
"They've been a very bad neighbor."
The group, Dam Concerned Citizens, has called for an "independent and objective analysis" study of the effect of the earthquake, she added.
"We can't afford to take the Power Authority's word for this."
County officials have asked that the NYPA pay for the research since the authority is the owner of the utility and property that the earthquake originated under and whose facility is built over it.
The request has been made to the Bureau of Flood Protection and Dam Safety of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.