July 11, 2008
Commissioner Pete Grannis
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Albany, NY 12233-1011
Dear Commissioner Grannis:
During your long and distinguished career in the State Assembly, you were known as someone who always believed that the health and safety of a community must be first and foremost in dealing with environmental cleanup issues. That is why I was very disturbed and perplexed by an article in the July 10th edition of the Buffalo News regarding 75,000 tons of toxic PCB waste that is slated to come to Niagara County from the DEC cleanup of a former salvage yard for General Electric in Queensbury, Warren County.
According to this article, DEC initially solicited bids for contractors who would utilize thermal desorption, a process which isolates toxins using heat, for the cleanup work. But because bids were too high, that plan was scrapped and the dirtiest of the material will now be hauled in 1,500 truckloads across New York State and across most of Niagara County to a hazardous waste landfill in Porter.
Our state boasts a $123.7 billion budget and a DEC led by one of the most renowned environmentalists in the history of the State Legislature. I am appalled, therefore, that we are going to move forward with a plan that is less safe and less clean based on no more compelling reason than bids were too high.
I urge you in the strongest sense possible to delay any further work or awarding of contracts until you and I have had an opportunity to discuss this issue and explore alternatives. For example, GE owns and operates a licensed landfill in Schenectady. In light of GE’s role in creating the waste, wouldn’t the company’s private landfill be an appropriate repository for this material?
Let me be clear that I have no interest in allowing any toxic waste from the Queensbury site to be imported into Niagara County, and I plan on seeking every remedy possible to prevent it.
I look forward to discussing this matter in the immediate future.
George D. Maziarz
Senator, 62nd District