Pols demand city stop dredging at trash plant site

November 24, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Elected officials gathered at the site where a waste transfer station is under construction to call on the city to halt the construction. Photo courtesy of Assemblymember William Colton’s office
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Councilmember Mark Treyger and Assemblymember William Colton, who have been leading a battle against the city over the construction of a waste transfer station on the Bensonhurst waterfront, charged that a dredging project connected with the facility is endangering the community.

Treyger and Colton held a press conference at the site of the construction, Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Street, on Nov. 21 to demand that the de Blasio administration call an immediate halt to the dredging at the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station site.

The dredging violates the health and safety conditions of the project’s permit, according to Treyger and Colton.

The elected officials also demanded that the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the agency responsible for the permit, refrain from making any changes to the permit’s conditions. DEC has made modifications to the permit and its conditions without a public review process, Treyger and Colton said.

The lawmakers produced a video shot at the dredging site that they claim shows a large piece of metal stuck in the jaws of the machine conducting the dredging, resulting in muddy soil and water — contaminated by dioxins, lead, mercury and the chemical Mirex — falling back into Gravesend Bay, potentially spreading hazardous particles in the surrounding water and into the air. 

The footage also shows piles of hazardous materials on the site grounds that are not covered by tarps, as the permit requires, Treyger and Colton charged.

“The video footage captured at the site of the Waste Transfer station is appalling. Just as those of us who have fought this disastrous, irresponsible project from the start predicted, the dredging process at this site is violating all of the conditions set forth by the permit, spreading contaminated material into our water and the air that we breathe. This dredging must be stopped immediately, and DEC must hold a hearing so that any changes to the permit are vetted through a public review process,” Treyger said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, state Sen. Diane Savino, Assemblymember Pamela Harris and Councilmember Vincent Gentile also attended the press conference to express their concerns over the situation.

The station is being built at the site of a former garbage incinerator that was shut down by the city in the early 1990s.

The station, part of a Solid Waste Management Plan approved by the City Council a decade ago, will accept household trash that will be trucked to the site. It is being built on the waterfront because the trash will be compacted and then placed onto barges for shipment out of state.

“The health and safety of the residents surrounding Gravesend Bay must come first. We cannot be so hasty to complete a project, regardless of its merits, that we put Brooklynites on a collision course for harm. At a minimum, dredging for the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Waste Transfer Station needs to be halted until the public has its rightful opportunity to review the modifications that DEC has made to the project’s permit,” Adams said.

The Dept. of Sanitation will continue dredging at the site, according to agency spokesperson Kathy Dawkins.

“The Department of Sanitation used a digging bucket yesterday that is more appropriate for compacted material such as compacted sand. Sanitation received approval from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use this type digging bucket in compacted areas,” Dawkins told the Brooklyn Eagle via email on Nov. 24.

“Once the compacted areas have been dredged, dredging operations will continue to remove sediment from the remaining areas with an environmental bucket in accordance with the NYSDEC permit. The NYSDEC permit also allows dredging to continue through December 4, 2015,” Dawkins said.


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