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There is an air of disappointment in City Hall.

From Mayor Griffin down, officialdom was ready to start full-scale recycling next month -- hoping to seize the momentum from a partial citywide program collecting newspapers and cardboard.

But collection of glass, plastic and metal is off, probably until April. Recycling has caught the imagination of the ordinary citizen who finds a way to participate and show environmental concern. Collection of paper exceeded expectations and was encouraging to city officials.

There is still a need for better information and education, but that, too, must wait until the next phase kicks in. One would like to see more promotion. Why not a big "Recycle Now" sign on every sanitation truck, or slogans saying, for example, "This load of leaves will be composted, not burned"?

Both the Squaw Island operation and the new Hopkins Street center should have open houses and tours.

David P. Comerford, public works commissioner; James J. Makowski, deputy streets director, and Robert A. O'Hara, director of buildings, have done a sound job in overcoming the early hitches.

They still need help. For example residents are still putting pizza boxes in with cardboard, plastic bags around newspapers and garbage in blue boxes. And they'll need more help when the program moves to all 135,000 dwelling units.

Meanwhile, Modern Recycling is leaving a bad taste in the pilot area, where the company serves 15,000 households. Modern ran the pilot project, but didn't win the contract for full-scale operation.

City officials say the company is supposed to pick up all paper -- newspapers, plain paper, wrappers, everything. Instead, its collectors routinely dump paper in the garbage or, worse, the street.

One would think that with a stake in the future of recycling, the company would act responsibly, even though it didn't get the citywide contract.

Regional Director John J. Spagnoli of the state Department of Environmental Conservation says that DEC will issue a permit in mid-January to Integrated Waste Systems Inc. if it files the necessary details to complete its application. Then there will be a waiting period to complete and equip a building, run tests and again whip up enthusiasm for recycling.

It's a down period, but residents should remember that Buffalo is ahead of most metropolitan areas in the state and certainly the rest of the county, where piecemeal operations have yet to be put into a comprehensive program.

One plus for the those communities in the Northeast Recycling Coalition is the selection of Jerry Knoll to run the program. He's a pioneer and put the Village of Hamburg on the map with recycling before it was a popular thing to do. He's a no-nonsense official and a one-man bandwagon for recycling.
The headline screamed: "Lake Erie fish called safe to eat."

Dr. Michael Voiland, the Sea Grant director, speaking at a recent "State of Lake Erie" meeting, noted that pollution levels have dropped and that no federal threshold levels for chemicals were exceeded, and proceeded to tell the audience to eat away.

As the director of an institute with a mission for pro-moting use of the waters, it comes as no surprise. This writer can recall serving on a screening panel to ensure that there was no duplication in research grants only to find that when there was conflict the adviser's advice was routinely ignored and the favorite projects went forward -- the ones that "enhanced the mission of Sea Grant."

Here is a reminder from the state Health Department:

"The general health advisory for sports fish is that an individual eat no more that one meal (one-half pound) per week of fish from the state's freshwaters. . . . This general advisory is designed to protect against consumption of large amounts of fish which may come from contaminated waterways that are as yet untested or which may contain unidentified contaminants."

Take your pick: Dr. Voiland or state Health Commissioner Dr. David Axelrod?

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