For neighborhoods overburdened by trash, no time to waste

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent “City Hall in your Borough” week in Staten Island reminded us of the legacy of the infamous Fresh Kills Landfill. For 54 years across 2,200 acres, Fresh Kills was the largest landfill in the world. At the end...

For neighborhoods overburdened by trash, no time to waste

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent “City Hall in your Borough” week in Staten Island reminded us of the legacy of the infamous Fresh Kills Landfill. For 54 years across 2,200 acres, Fresh Kills was the largest landfill in the world. At the end...

20 April 2017 Thursday 06:52
24 Reads
For neighborhoods overburdened by trash, no time to waste

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent “City Hall in your Borough” week in Staten Island reminded us of the legacy of the infamous Fresh Kills Landfill. For 54 years across 2,200 acres, Fresh Kills was the largest landfill in the world.

At the end of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s tenure in 2001, he closed Fresh Kills as a swan song to his faithful supporters in Staten Island and committed to transform the landfill into a park. But the City’s garbage still needed to go somewhere. A patchwork system came about that relied on private waste-transfer stations in a small number of communities and out-of-state landfills.

Ever since the closure of Fresh Kills, three predominately low-income communities of color in north Brooklyn, the South Bronx and southeast Queens have been saturated by transfer stations that handle trash from residents and businesses across New York City.

article continues below advertisement

Approximately 80% of the trash processed in the city comes through transfer stations in these three communities. City garbage trucks and private carters carry municipal and commercial solid waste into these neighborhoods. Thousands of polluting, heavy diesel tractor-trailers carry this waste out from these communities, contributing to some of the highest asthma rates in the country.

More than a decade ago, the City Council overwhelmingly approved a visionary 20-year comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan to begin to relieve the burden of the city’s trash on these communities. It called for the city to construct and operate a network of marine transfer stations so that our waste could be exported by rail and barge, as opposed to overland trucks that tear up our roadways, create traffic and pollute neighborhoods.

The Solid Waste Management Plan is based on the concept of equity—that no borough should be responsible for managing another borough’s garbage. But the plan goes further by reducing the burden placed on communities handling the most trash, such as north Brooklyn. Today, Williamsburg and Greenpoint handle more than 30% of the garbage in New York City.

This week, at long last, the New York City Department of Sanitation reached an important agreement to complete the final step of the city’s waste-disposal plan. The contract negotiated with Waste Management will allow the city to shift the residential waste currently handled by contracted, truck-based transfer stations in north Brooklyn and Sunset Park to the new Hamilton Avenue and Southwest Brooklyn marine transfer stations.

When the Hamilton Avenue facility opens later this year, it will help achieve environmental justice for communities that have long suffered. Nearly 200 collection trucks per day, including 100 from north Brooklyn alone, will be diverted from saturated communities. The Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station will further distribute waste more equitably when it opens next year.

By transforming to a marine-based waste management system, we will reduce annual truck traffic by more than 60 million miles traveled, including 5 million in New York City. This will altogether eliminate use of long-haul tractor trailers to transport waste managed by the Department of Sanitation from New York City. The Solid Waste Management Plan is also expected to cut 34,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

In communities such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint, this means cleaner air, safer roads and better quality of life. A study by the Brooklyn community group Organizations United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE) found that 362 trucks per hour pass by six major intersections in the neighborhood, taking garbage back and forth to the 19 local transfer stations.

Just as the community in Staten Island has seen Fresh Kills transformed into a park, we hope that the full implementation of the Solid Waste Management Plan will reduce asthma rates and improve air quality in north Brooklyn, southeast Queens and the South Bronx.

Our communities have suffered for decades. Equity and environmental justice cannot come soon enough.

Antonio Reynoso, D-Brooklyn, chairs the City Council's Sanitation Committee. Eddie Bautista is executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. Elizabeth Yeampierre is executive director of UPROSE.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent “City Hall in your Borough” week in Staten Island reminded us of the legacy of the infamous Fresh Kills Landfill. For 54 years across 2,200 acres, Fresh Kills was the largest landfill in the world.

At the end of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s tenure in 2001, he closed Fresh Kills as a swan song to his faithful supporters in Staten Island and committed to transform the landfill into a park. But the City’s garbage still needed to go somewhere. A patchwork system came about that relied on private waste-transfer stations in a small number of communities and out-of-state landfills.

Ever since the closure of Fresh Kills, three predominately low-income communities of color in north Brooklyn, the South Bronx and southeast Queens have been saturated by transfer stations that handle trash from residents and businesses across New York City.

Approximately 80% of the trash processed in the city comes through transfer stations in these three communities. City garbage trucks and private carters carry municipal and commercial solid waste into these neighborhoods. Thousands of polluting, heavy diesel tractor-trailers carry this waste out from these communities, contributing to some of the highest asthma rates in the country.

More than a decade ago, the City Council overwhelmingly approved a visionary 20-year comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan to begin to relieve the burden of the city’s trash on these communities. It called for the city to construct and operate a network of marine transfer stations so that our waste could be exported by rail and barge, as opposed to overland trucks that tear up our roadways, create traffic and pollute neighborhoods.

The Solid Waste Management Plan is based on the concept of equity—that no borough should be responsible for managing another borough’s garbage. But the plan goes further by reducing the burden placed on communities handling the most trash, such as north Brooklyn. Today, Williamsburg and Greenpoint handle more than 30% of the garbage in New York City.

This week, at long last, the New York City Department of Sanitation reached an important agreement to complete the final step of the city’s waste-disposal plan. The contract negotiated with Waste Management will allow the city to shift the residential waste currently handled by contracted, truck-based transfer stations in north Brooklyn and Sunset Park to the new Hamilton Avenue and Southwest Brooklyn marine transfer stations.

When the Hamilton Avenue facility opens later this year, it will help achieve environmental justice for communities that have long suffered. Nearly 200 collection trucks per day, including 100 from north Brooklyn alone, will be diverted from saturated communities. The Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station will further distribute waste more equitably when it opens next year.

By transforming to a marine-based waste management system, we will reduce annual truck traffic by more than 60 million miles traveled, including 5 million in New York City. This will altogether eliminate use of long-haul tractor trailers to transport waste managed by the Department of Sanitation from New York City. The Solid Waste Management Plan is also expected to cut 34,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

In communities such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint, this means cleaner air, safer roads and better quality of life. A study by the Brooklyn community group Organizations United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE) found that 362 trucks per hour pass by six major intersections in the neighborhood, taking garbage back and forth to the 19 local transfer stations.

Just as the community in Staten Island has seen Fresh Kills transformed into a park, we hope that the full implementation of the Solid Waste Management Plan will reduce asthma rates and improve air quality in north Brooklyn, southeast Queens and the South Bronx.

Our communities have suffered for decades. Equity and environmental justice cannot come soon enough.

Antonio Reynoso, D-Brooklyn, chairs the City Council's Sanitation Committee. Eddie Bautista is executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. Elizabeth Yeampierre is executive director of UPROSE.

Sign up for our FREE daily email newsletter. A summary of the day's top business and political headlines from the newsroom of Crain's New York Business.

More Newsletters ›

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

Comments
Avatar
Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
<strong>Please!</strong> Be aware that you are responsible with your comments!