City poised to kick off waste transfer station construction

December 9, 2014 Helen Klein
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Bensonhurst got an early visit from a municipal Grinch, with the news that the city has begun planning construction of the long-opposed waste transfer station for Gravesend Bay.

According to a December 2 letter to State Senator Marty Golden from the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the agency “will soon begin the construction of the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station” at 400 Bay 41st Street, with demolition slated to commence this month, and completion planned for mid-2017.

The news came not long after Assemblymember William Colton – who has led the fight against the facility – filed an appeal in a case he had brought in 2012 to stop it from being constructed. The appeal followed a decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Burt Bunyan that allowed the project to proceed.

“I am not surprised that the city is rushing ahead with this failed policy,” noted Colton. “What it means is that the city is starting construction while the legal appeal is still pending. The city and the state had 30 days to put in an answer, but instead they have asked for more time and started construction.

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“This garbage station plan is not a forward-looking or progressive policy,” he went on. “It’s a backwards policy and it’s going to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of dollars. We will continue to fight on both the legal and community fronts to stop this ill-conceived plan.“ The next step, he added, will be announced, “within the next few days.”

“While we all must share the responsibility of the 11,000 tons of waste New Yorkers produce each day, it must be done responsibly,” stressed Councilmember Vincent Gentile,

Proposed by the Department of Sanitation (DOS) as part of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan (or SWMP), the station – which would be built on the site of the reviled Bensonhurst incinerator which operated without a permit from the 1950s through the 1980s – has aroused a myriad of concerns.

Among these is the impact of truck traffic on nearby residents, a potential increase in traffic congestion (all trucks would have to access the facility through the eastbound Belt Parkway service road) and the possibility that necessary dredging (to allow garbage barges to travel to and from the station) would bring up toxins from the old incinerator and potentially disturb unexploded munitions dating back to World War II now at the floor of Gravesend Bay.

“The truck traffic, the noise, the odor and any challenges to our environment and water make this a bad idea and site,” noted Golden, who urged opponents to “mobilize and continue the fight to stop this dump immediately.”

“The fight is not over,” agreed Councilmember Mark Treyger, who called the decision to proceed with the facility “one of the worst environmental decisions in southwest Brooklyn, in addition to the decision to operate an illegal incinerator,” and who said the waste transfer station was in direct opposition to the “spirit of the SWMP, which was to address years of what was believed to be environmental injustice in areas inundated with waste.

“Southern Brooklyn has been a victim of environmental injustice too,” he contended, citing incidents of cancer, asthma and other lung ailments that followed the decades of incineration. “The impact still lingers. We are still living with it.”


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