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County to rethink ending 15-year program

At a recent DeWitt Town Board meeting, town councilors unanimously authorized Supervisor Ed Michalenko to write a letter to the Onondaga County Legislature regarding its plan to discontinue the Waste to Energy Monitoring Program. This program involves off-site monitoring for soil and ash from the Rock Cut Road incinerator in Jamesville. Michalenko's letter requested the county continue to monitor for toxic substances, such as Mercury, Dioxin and PCB.

Off-site monitoring over the last 15 years has indicated low levels of toxic emissions and levels so low there is no significant increase to health risks, said Gary Sauda, director of the division of environmental health.

"This testing was to determine if their were any longterm impacts from deposits of contaminates into the soil, Sauda said. He said these findings established no relationship between the incinerator and any increase in levels.

"In general, the values have been below the limits, Sauda said.

Maintaining the current set up costs $55,000 annually, with the bulk of the money going toward two lab contracts. Cost is a concern, Sauda said, when you're looking for every dollar you need in terms of a budgetary standpoint. Due to fiscal concerns, County Executive Joanie Mahoney did not execute contracts for these services in 2009.

On Feb. 23, DeWitt Town Councilor Vicki Baker, Michalenko and several others met with the Onondaga County Health Committee on this topic. Baker said the goal of the meeting was to get the program re-instated. The committee ultimately resolved, however, to reassess the benefits of the program's impact against the impact on the overall county budget, and to execute and implement contracts to continue the Waste to Enery Monitoring Program.

"We're looking into this, Sauda said. "We are looking into the program to reevaluate what can be done.

This is good news for Michalenko, who said he's never agreed with the monitoring process from the get-go but was concerned the county was going to abandon the current monitoring program altogether.

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