North Brooklyn, South Bronx residents pushing for new waste transfer stations to lift trash burden
Advocates want ‘fairness’ in siting of transfer stations, noting that Manhattan currently has none
Lincoln Avenue waste transfer station, one of 13 such facilities in the South Bronx. Manhattan currently has none.
More than 60% of the city’s garbage goes through plants in the South Bronx and along Newtown Creek – but they were supposed to get relief from a landmark 2006 garbage plan that includes four new marine transfer stations that would take half the city’s trash.
“It’s about ensuring there’s some fairness in how we handle waste,” said Gavin Kearney, director of environmental justice at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “If they don’t get this thing underway in this administration, we could be moving backward in the political sense.”
Fierce opposition has met a planned station on E. 91st St. in the upper East Side, which has been held up by lawsuits and is slated to open in 2015. A station planned in Bath Beach is on the same schedule.
Facilities in Sunset Park and College Point are under construction, but the Queens station continues draw protests saying it could raise hazards at nearby LaGuardia Airport.
In the South Bronx, which has 13 stations, and the area around Newtown Creek, which has 19, residents complain that so many stations in one place means foul smells, pollution-spewing trucks clogging the streets and dust and debris blowing around.
Advocates are particularly rankled by the resistance from the Upper East Side. Manhattan produces 40% of the city’s trash, but currently has no waste stations.
“It is absolutely reprehensible that the most privileged community in New York City refused to accept its fair share,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE. “Our people in Williamsburg can’t breathe. Our people in the South Bronx can’t breathe.”
Borough President Marty Markowitz is also pushing for Manhattan to handle some trash. “I get it. Trash is dirty business. No one wants it in their backyards,” he said. “It was approved. It’s the law of the city, period…Your trash is not better than ours. Get over it.”
Advocates in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and the South Bronx insist they’re not just trying to push their problems off on other neighborhoods, since the new, upgraded facilities would keep their garbage covered and use barges instead of trucks.
“The fact that we’re still having this conversation is disheartening,” said Kellie Terry-Sepulveda, executive director of The Point Community Development Corp. in Hunts Point.
“For many, many years we’ve been overburdened,” she said. “We’ve always felt like it was urgent.”