City could see more equal distribution of garbage

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AMBI: Truck noises.

LEM: It’s a sound New Yorkers are familiar with. A garbage truck in Flushing pulls away from the curb on a Thursday morning. This truck will drive several miles before dropping off its load. Quite likely, it’ll pass through Jamaica, right in front of Joe Moretti’s house.

0:50 MORETTI You have the facility in an area where people live, and then you have these huge trucks, which cause so much pollution, so much noise, driving illegally on these residential streets.

Traditionally poorer neighborhoods like Jamaica are shouldering the burden of the city’s trash. And not just in Queens. Right now, over a third of the city’s trash is processed in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Another third passes through the South Bronx.

Gavin Kearney is the director of the environmental justice program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. He says, a bad situation got worse 15 years ago.

22:35 KEARNEY Since the city closed the Fresh Kills Landfill, and did it without any kind of idea about what they’re going to do with waste post-Fresh Kills, there has been a complete overburdening of these communities with waste facilities.

And that means more pollution, higher rates of asthma and respiratory diseases.

22:45 KEARNEY It’s an unconscionable system in which three communities in a city of 8 million people handle 75 percent of the waste.

The new bill in front of the city council attempts to fix that. If Intro 495 passes, it’ll cut the amount of trash some existing transfer stations can accept by nearly 20 percent. The remainder would be redistributed among other facilities and taken to new marine transfer stations.The city’s opened two marine transfer stations in College Point, Queens and Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn. It will open two more on Manhattan’s East 91st St. and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

But opponents of the bill say, garbage trucks will have to drive farther in the interim. David Biederman is general counsel for the National Waste and Recycling Association, a coalition of private sanitation companies.

4:50 BIEDERMAN And that means more traffic, more emissions, ‘cause there’s going to be an increase in the vehicles’ miles travelled.

Instead of going 3 or 4 miles to current transfer stations, the companies Biederman represents will be trucking the waste to facilities in SW Brooklyn or NE Queens.

6:30 BIEDERMAN …And by definition those facilities are longer distances away from where the route ends in Manhattan.

And Biederman says hauling trash farther away is also bad for the environment. He says marine transfer stations opening up now and in coming months will fix the problem if everyone can just wait.

9:49 BIEDERMAN Opening up marine transfer stations is going to divert 1,000s of tons of garbage every day which corresponds to 100s of trucks out of Jamaica, out of Northern Brooklyn, to these new facilities.

Nickolas Themelis is Director of Columbia University’s Earth Engineering Center. He says figuring out better places to move the trash doesn’t solve the bigger problem: too much trash.

10:50 THEMELIS New York City prides itself and deserves to be considered one of the top cities in the world. But regarding waste management, it is not. Because, it still depends quite a lot on landfilling nearby.

10:55 THEMELIS But landfilling hundreds of miles away, which means additional burden on the atmosphere.

Themelis says the city needs to work on building new stations that burn trash to generate energy as a longer term solution. Today, the city council will hear arguments against the proposition.

AMBI: Truck noises.

Pola Lem, Columbia Radio News.

 

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