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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

>More E-ZPass lanes added at 4 WNY exits

E-ZPass just got a little easier.

Thruway Authority officials announced Thursday work is done on seven new 20 mph E-ZPass lanes in four Western New York exits.

The new lanes were added to the toll areas at Exit 45 (Victor), 48A (Pembroke), 49 (Depew) and 57 (Hamburg).

The seven additions bring the total number of higher-speed E-ZPass lanes in the Thruway Authority's Buffalo Division to 22.

It's all part of a $3.5 million enhancement plan to have a total of 238 E-ZPass lanes and 60 higher-speed 238 E-ZPass lanes available on the Thruway.

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>$1.24 million grant to fund temporary jobs

A federal grant of more than $1.24 million to the state Department of Labor will pay to create temporary jobs to help with the cleanup and recovery from the October snowstorm, the U.S. secretary of labor announced Thursday.

"This . . . grant will put New Yorkers to work assisting their communities and will provide other helpful services to residents," Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

The approximately 150 temporary jobs will be for workers dislocated as a result of snowstorms and flooding, other dislocated workers and the long-term unemployed.

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>$298 million upgrade complete after 15 years

After 15 years, a $298 million upgrade of the Niagara Power Project was completed Thursday, according to the New York Power Authority.

Turbines were replaced, and other components of all 13 generating units were retrofitted, a spokesman said. The work will enable the 2,400-megawatt project to operate at maximum efficiency for many years to come.

The upgrade began in 1991, with each of the generating units removed from service one at a time to lessen the effect on the project's output. Each unit weighs more than 900 tons.

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>Compensation urged for ex-Linde workers

A Western New York congresswoman is demanding timely compensation for former employees of Linde Ceramics who were sickened by handling radioactive materials on the job.

"The Atomic Energy Workers at Linde helped defend and secure America for future generations," Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, said Thursday. "Now the government has an obligation to compensate them for this dangerous work which robbed them of their health."

Five years ago, Congress decided to compensate Cold War-era workers after the government admitted putting them at risk of cancer caused by radiation exposure. Sick workers get $150,000 plus medical benefits.

Slaughter said many former employees of the Town of Tonawanda plant still are waiting for their claims to be addressed and several have been denied benefits.

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