|The fire at Norampac was caused by cardboard. Was it illegally stored? Will the city cover it up?
Rats in LaSalle
Following the publication of our story last week on rats in LaSalle, several DPW representatives visited houses in LaSalle and the bottom line is that the Dyster administration is 'guilting' the residents, telling them they have to fix the problem themselves by closing their gardens, their sheds and so on.
No mention of Covanta Niagara and their garbage incinerator.
Mayor Paul Dyster would have us believe that the problem of rats comes from a family having a small garden - as a rat attractor - rather than the hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage at Covanta being a rat attractor.
Covanta will hold an open house on Thursday (Sept. 25) at their facility that will be open to anyone who wants to take a tour. If the neighborhood people had a clue, they would picket the open house and then picket city hall on Thursday..
Which begs a question: why/how has the city allowed a garbage depot to operate anywhere near a community?
This could be posed musically as "Covanta and the rats" or "Dyster and the rats" ("Bennie and the Jets")...with Dyster singing lead.
Fire at Norampac
Dyster really has some amazing quotes in the media concerning this fire.
He comments on everything from how hot the fire burned to how he used the city credit card to personally go to Home Depot to buy fire extinguishers. He also said that the cardboard appeared "to be stored properly."
(Now, if he would only go to Home Depot and use the city credit card to buy rat traps for half of LaSalle.)
I saw no quotes where he thanked the volunteer fireman for saving his a-- and the facility.
I can tell you this for a fact: one of the top plant managers of Norampac spent Sunday at the Bills game. I find that quite strange. His facility was losing "millions" in paper and property and the entire two plants were in danger of going up in flames and he took off to the game.
More importantly, if the cardboard was being stored improperly or illegally that means Greenpac eats a lot of money. As I understand it, the corrugated cardboard bales were about 25 feet tall and stretched/covered the length of a football field. Are there no city planning laws that regulate these things?
A city hall source told the Reporter more than a year ago that the bales were out of control and should not have been allowed by the city to accumulate like that.
At the time he also told the Reporter that, ironically, rats were nesting in the bales.
It is beyond question that the bales were out of control as to quantity and that normally with a paper plant one would think that they should only be allowed to store as much paper on the premises as they plan/promise to ship in a certain reasonable period of time.
Did the city hold them to the letter of the law in light of their being a paper mill with huge quantities on paper on the ground in the open?
The fire was still smoldering two days after it started and the fire chief said they had to break the remaining bales open and douse them.
Imagine the cost of the fire: 17 volunteer companies and other local/area full time firemen plus the city's firemen.
Sources at Norampac said that speculation was rife that an employee with a careless cigarette may have ignited the blaze.
Even if the smoker story is untrue, the fact that such a fire hazard existed- we are talking about a mountain of flammable cardboard - where a cigarette, vandals with a match stick or anyone with a grudge against Norampac could ignite a blaze that required 17 fire companies, leaves one wondering.
Meantime, the cardboard fire may have killed or evicted numbers of rats.
A source told us days prior to the fire, "There were contractors working at Norampac/Greenpac by the mountain of cardboard. They observed rats running around. Some of the cardboard was coming from food companies and while there might not be food per se, rats have sensitive smell and they smelled food on the cardboard. These are feeder rats and they're all over the place in the cardboard at Norampac.
Now that the fire burned the cardboard, will we see more rats running and scurrying for new homes in the neighborhood?
Finally, more and more we hear the talk: the Niagara Falls casino cash is the worst kept secret in WNY- and beyond. Every company and consultant and political lobbyist knows Niagara Falls "has millions" that has to be spent and they are lining up every day to help the administration of Mayor Paul Dyster spend it.
Absent a casino spending plan - it will continue to be spent helter-skelter.
That is how Mayor Dyster has been able to plough through $174 million without improving the city in any measurable way.
The amount spent could have revolutionized the city - had it been treated as precious public resources.
It was not.