Bensonhurst Trash Plant Is Up and Running

October 17, 2018 Paula Katinas
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Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station to Export Waste

After years of controversy and protest rallies, the city has quietly opened a trash processing plant in Bensonhurst.

On Oct. 1, the Department of Sanitation (DOS) began operating the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station on the waterfront of Gravesend Bay near Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Street in Bensonhurst, the site where a city-owned garbage incinerator stood for decades until it was closed during the Giuliani administration.

The station is expected to handle approximately 700-900 tons of trash a day from surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods, a DOS spokesperson told this newspaper via email.

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The facility will accept the trash and then load the debris on barges for shipment to an out-of-state site, according to officials.

The new plant, which took four years to construct, is part of the New York’s Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP), a plan approved by the City Council in 2006 to spread the burden of trash disposal around the five boroughs and move away from the concept of having a tiny fraction of the city’s communities bearing the responsibility.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation signed off on the plan.

“The SWMP is a fair, five-borough plan to sustainably manage New York City’s waste and offer flexibility and resiliency in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency,” DOS Press Secretary Dina Montes told this newspaper. “It provides New York City with new world class infrastructure and mandates a shift from waste export by long-haul truck to a system of marine and rail transfer stations spread throughout the five boroughs. In total, the SWMP will reduce truck traffic associated with waste export by more than 60 million miles per year, including more than five million miles in and around New York City. It will slash greenhouse gas emissions by 34,000 tons annually.”

Since the start of construction in 2014, the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station has been the target of protest demonstrations by led elected officials, including Assemblymember William Colton, a Democrat representing Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst, Councilmember Mark Treyger, a Democrat representing Coney Island, Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst, and community residents who charged that the facility would increase truck traffic on local streets, cause an increase in air pollution and release toxins into the air that they breathe.

Once the trash arrives at the Southwest Brooklyn station, cranes will load the containers onto barges to be transported to an intermodal facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey owned by the company Waste Management. The containers will then be transported to a rail yard, where they will be loaded onto rail cars for transport to disposal facilities in Virginia and upstate New York.

In 2017, Waste Management was awarded a $3.3 billion contract set to last for a term of 20 years to handle trash from marine transfer stations. The contract also contains two optional five-year extensions.

At the time the contract was announced, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s system of using marine transfer stations to transport trash would be a fairer system.

“For far too long, a few communities in the five boroughs have been saturated by waste transfer stations and resulting truck traffic. We are taking a huge step in shifting the burden away from those communities,” the mayor said in a statement.

But not everyone is happy with the opening of the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station.

Colton blasted the de Blasio administration over the move.

“Although Mayor de Blasio may have pushed this dangerous project on our community, now we will hold him fully liable for all the negative impacts we had anticipated will occur. I promise that we will continue to fight for its final closure and we will prevail,” Colton said in a statement.

Colton urged residents who live near the facility to be in the lookout for any potential problems and to report any issues to his office by calling 718-236-1598.

A spokesperson for the mayor declined to comment.

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