Gravesend trash plant foes demand halt to construction

July 25, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember William Colton (at podium) leads a rally against the marine transfer station. Photo courtesy of Colton’s office
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A 6-foot-long metal piece blew off the roof of a trash processing plant under construction in Gravesend, prompting renewed calls by local environmentalists for the city to bring the project to a halt.

The accident took place at the site of the Department of Sanitation (DOS) Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station on Bay 41st Street on the shore of Gravesend Bay on July 18. There were no reported injuries.

But the incident is troubling, according to the Anti-Waste Task Force, an ad hoc group opposed to the construction of the marine transfer station, also known as a waste transfer station.

“This is the latest accident in a series of dangerous incidents, evidencing another reason to shut down the waste transfer station once and for all,” the task force said in a statement.

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The task force previously charged that the trash plant will bring more trucks to Bensonhurst, polluting the air residents breathe, and that the dredging of the Gravesend Bay being done to accommodate barges at the site is unveiling dangerous toxins.

Task force leaders also said that the metal chunk mysteriously disappeared after the accident and are demanding an investigation.

“We believe that the disappearance of the metal shows a cover up that also must be thoroughly investigated. We demand that the city inspector general, as well as the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, also look into this matter,” said task force Co-Chairman Charles Ragusa.

The accident took place during a severe rainstorm that brought heavy wind gusts to Brooklyn on July 18. The huge metal chunk flew off the building and nearly hit two people on the adjacent property, according to task force leaders.

The task force is led by Ragusa and Nancy Tong, the Democratic district leaders of the 47th Assembly District. Ragusa and Tong are close political allies of Assemblymember William Colton, a longtime opponent of the marine transfer station. Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) has led numerous protest rallies against the facility.

A neighborhood watch group established by the task force to monitor the construction site discovered the July 18 accident. The group shot video of the metal chunk on the ground.

“Here again the public was only able to discover this latest dangerous incident from the efforts of neighborhood volunteers doing the oversight which the city has refused to do. We are lucky no one was seriously hurt in this incident, but government needs to act to prevent future accidents,” Tong said.

Colton went further. “We need to stop this dangerous garbage station once and for all before we have another Flint, Michigan-like disaster,” he said, referring to the scandal in Flint that erupted when that city’s drinking water was found to be contaminated with high lead levels.

In response to the task force’s demands for a probe, DOS issued a statement to the Brooklyn Eagle.

“The Department of Sanitation is well aware of the Southwest Brooklyn MTS roof construction incident. The Department of Design & Construction (DDC) conducted an investigation of the incident and determined that the contractor responsible for roof construction, Stonebridge, Inc., secured the construction materials for high wind conditions on Monday evening, but these conditions caused a sheet of roof deck to blow off. Construction site personnel met with the property owner after the incident. As a precaution, DDC has required that Stonebridge, Inc. secure and tie down all roof decking that has not been permanently installed with additional straps and screws,” the statement read.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, according to DOS spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins, who said the facility is scheduled to become operational by the spring of 2018.


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