Let’s ensure DEC is properly funded

As authors of the Mapping Waste report that was used as the basis of The News series on “Toxic legacy’s time bomb,” we applaud the Department of Environmental Conservation and Commissioner Joe Martens for the work they have done to clean up Western New York. The DEC was extremely helpful in the preparation of the report by providing data, explaining a complex regulatory structure and reviewing the final document.

What Martens did not say in his May 11 Another Voice, however, is that the DEC has faced continued cuts in personnel, making it difficult to adequately regulate the diverse programs it administers to protect the health of New York’s citizens and the environment.

It also was not mentioned that when sites are “cleaned up,” that most often means the contamination is being contained on site in engineered containment areas designed for a period of time such as 30 years. Many of these sites have reached the end of that period and, although being monitored, there is no mechanism in place to pay the cost of the next remediation.

It also did not mention that “active” waste continues to pour into our community at places like Chemical Waste Management, a facility that should be closed. As citizens of New York State, we need the DEC to do its job and we therefore need to support it by encouraging our elected officials to see that it is properly funded and encouraged to protect us from future threats to public health such as fracking. The more we know about what the DEC does, through such studies as Mapping Waste and The News reporting, the more articulate we can be in supporting their efforts on our behalf.

Lynda Schneekloth

Joe Gardella

Urban Design Project, UB School

of Architecture and Planning