Niagara Gazette — Kudela understands that the company employs Niagara Falls residents and does not want to stop Covanta from increasing business. But, he wants to know that the increase in rail traffic will not effect the quality of life in his neighborhood.
“We’re all sensitive to the fact that there are jobs involved here,” he said. “But, if it’s a matter of (the company) saving money or putting us through grief, they’re going to spend the money.”
Amy Witryol, a community advocate who has researched public policy related to the waste industry in Niagara County for years, attended the meeting Wednesday night.
She has been a vocal critic of many aspects of Covanta’s expansion.
One of the criticisms she has leveled against the company is that they have done a poor job of community outreach and have failed to meet state regulations that require companies that pollute in poor and minority neighborhoods classified as Environmental Justice Areas to work in those neighborhoods to ensure that the people most affected understand the nature and extent of the pollution.
“It was incredibly disappointing to see their treatment of an environmental justice area,” she said.
Witryol has been asking the DEC to require the company to again perform the environmental justice outreach, as she views their first effort to be out of compliance with the agency’s policy, she said.
Covanta published public notices in local papers announcing a public information meeting that served as part of the environmental justice requirements for the renewal of the company’s air permit.
Witryol argues that many poor families cannot afford a newspaper subscription and that those residents who did see the notice — it included a picture of a smiling Covanta employee with the company logo — would not have known that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss health risks associated with the expansion of the company’s facilities.