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November 2, 2012

Flier rekindles quarrel

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A four-year-old controversy involving the delivery of PCBs to a hazardous waste landfill in Niagara County is now at the center of a new debate involving two candidates running for the New York state senate. 

Democrat Amy Hope Witryol maintains that a campaign flier distributed to households in the Niagara Falls area earlier this week contains “factually inaccurate” information about her position on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s 2008 decision to transfer thousands of tons of PCB-contaminated waste to the CWM Chemical Services’ landfill in the Town of Porter. 

Her opponent in this year’s 62nd District — incumbent state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane — asserts that the information found on the mailer is “absolutely true,” including its central message that Witryol — well-known locally for her work on environmental issues — put “politics over people” when she “refused to join” local efforts to stop New York State from dumping “150 million pounds” of PCB waste “in our backyard.”

The piece of campaign literature suggests the amount of hazardous waste involved in the move was “equal to the weight of 478 Statues of Liberty” and on one side shows a series of pictures of Lady Liberty to reinforce the point. 

The flier also promotes the idea that it was Maziarz who “fought to stop” the dumping plan, while saying it’s a “fact” that Witryol “didn’t.”

“It was, as far as I was concerned, a no-brainer for Niagara County,” Maziarz said, referring to what he characterizes as his attempts to compel the DEC to handle the waste differently. “The DEC was taking the easy way out, dumping it in Niagara County. She took the position that the DEC had no other choice.”

His proof?

A July 31, 2008 op-ed piece that appeared in the Niagara Gazette in which Witryol characterized the DEC’s decision to send the waste to a landfill instead of treating it on-site as a “done deal.” The flier describes the letter to the paper as “defending the state’s decision as the best choice available.” 

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