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Non-local truckers at GM site prompt concerns

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MASSENA - Truck drivers hauling contaminants off the General Motors Powertrain site are drawing the ire of elected and union officials.

Each month, officials receive an update on the number of employees working on the cleanup at the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site. Cleanup managers provide that number and note how many of the staff are local hires.

North country redevelopment task force members have repeatedly emphasized the need for as many local hires as possible during the cleanup. Officials from the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust, which owns the site, have emphasized their commitment to addressing that concern.

Cleanup Manager M. Brendan Mullen said 31 employees were on the site this week, and all but six were local. But task force members then inquired if the drivers of 25 to 30 trucks, who were hauling contaminants to a landfill near Buffalo, were also local.

Mr. Mullen said the contractor had subcontracted that work out to two trucking firms which County Legislator Anthony J. Arquiett didn’t recognize.

“I don’t believe either one of those companies, are local and I’m certain their employees aren’t either,” he said. “That, to be honest, to me is pretty alarming information.”

Richard Daddario, president of Laborers International Local 322, wondered why Mr. Mullen never included the truckers in his monthly reports.

“If they subbed it out, you don’t care whether those employees are local,” he said.

Mr. Mullen countered that he did care about hiring local employees.

“I do take that responsibility very seriously,” he said.

Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said he hoped local companies were given the opportunity to bid.

“I’m not sure if they have the capacity for the job but if they do we should give them a shot,” he said.

RACER expects to bid out the next phase of work, which will begin in 2013, in the fall. That will involve digging up to 50 feet below the property in order to remove contaminated areas, Mr. Mullen said.

Crews are in the midst of the “second phase” of site remediation, which involves removing the concrete slab which once existed underneath the now-demolished automotive plant and the subsoils underneath. That $15.3 million job went to D.A. Collins Companies in Wilton, Saratoga County.

Mr. Mullen previously said RACER selected that contractor over seven other bids, three of which were local companies, because it was the lowest bidder and submitted the best plan for completing the work. The second phase will wrap up by the end of this year.

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