City to start building Bensonhurst trash plant
Colton says ‘fight isn’t over!’
In a move that has set off alarm bells all over Southwest Brooklyn, the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) sent a letter to elected officials informing them that construction of a controversial trash plant is about to begin on the Bensonhurst waterfront.
The Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station will be located at 400 Bay 41st St., on the waterfront at Gravesend Bay. The site currently houses a city incinerator that stopped operating in the 1990s. The incinerator will have to be torn down to make room for the new facility. The plant has been in the planning stages since it was first announced as part of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan in 2005.
In a letter dated Dec. 2, DDC informed elected officials that “construction activities, including demolition, will begin in early December, 2014.”
Construction of the new plant is slated for completion in mid-2017, according to the DDC letter.
The marine transfer station, which will process trash and compact it for shipment by barge to garbage landfills located out of state, is vehemently opposed by local lawmakers who charge that the facility will cause an environmental and health hazard to residents living near the plant.
Assemblymember William Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), who filed a lawsuit in state court to stop the city from building the trash plant, said he’s disappointed that the DDC is moving forward. “But our fight is not over,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “There are legal remedies we may have.”
Colton lost the lawsuit, but filed an appeal in October hoping to overturn New York State Supreme Court Justice Bunyan’s decision in which he ruled that the city could go ahead with the trash plant.
Colton had originally filed suit in New York State Supreme Court in 2012 against the New York City Department of Sanitation (DOS) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) over the Southwest Brooklyn Waste Transfer Station. The DEC was named in Colton’s lawsuit because the trash plant required state approval. Colton had argued that the plant would significantly increase air pollution and bring too many trucks to the area.
“To move ahead while the appeal is still in motion is puzzling to me,” Colton said.
Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said he is undeterred by the DDC letter. “We are still awaiting a response to the appeal made by Assemblyman Colton back in October in hopes of overturning Judge Bunyan’s decision to move forward with construction at this site,” he wrote in an email to the Eagle.
Gravesend Bay will have to be dredged in order to make room for the docks that will have to be constructed to accommodate the new plant.
Councilmember Mark Treyger, who has been working alongside Colton in the fight against the trash plant for many years, said the dredging of the bay will cause dangerous toxins to be emitted into the air, affecting the health of nearby residents. Treyger said unexploded World War II bombs are located at the bottom of the bay stemming from a boat accident that took place there decades ago.
“The site should not be a waste transfer station. It should be remediated. We must make the case to this administration that this is a dangerously flawed plan,” Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) told the Eagle.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) is also opposed to the facility. “I have been a long standing opponent of putting a garbage dump here in our community of Southwest Brooklyn for a number of reasons. The truck traffic, the noise, the odor and any challenges to our environment and water make this a bad idea and site proposed by the Department of Sanitation. We must mobilize and continue the fight to stop this dump immediately,” he said.
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