Maspeth trash train plan smells bad

Elected officials want to stop garbage trains from running through Queens neighborhoods. Photo courtesy Alex Maureau
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The pending expansion of a waste transfer station in Maspeth is causing a stink with local residents.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation approved Waste Management of New York’s application last month to expand rail activity at Fresh Pond Yard on Review Avenue. The plan will increase the facility’s trash capacity, allowing more trash trains to roll through local neighborhoods, including Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood and Glendale, according to elected officials and residents who held a rally at the plant July 2.

At the rally, which included City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), state Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) joining local civic groups, Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said train traffic will only worsen when Review Avenue is expanded.

“Fresh Pond Yard does not have the capability to handle longer trains with more waste and additional locomotives. It would force those trains to bottleneck and push them to surrounding homes, schools and parks,” said Addabbo. “All of this is occurring now and will surely worsen once Review Avenue is expanded.”

Addabbo urged the DEC to explore alternative methods of transporting waste that would not burden residents with extra rail traffic and take away their quality of life and threaten overall health.

The DEC ruled last month that the expansion did not call for a full environmental review, explaining the expected increase in noise and air quality was not “significant.”

DEC did not return requests for comment.

A Waste Management spokesman said the company gathered input from elected officials, community leaders, environmental groups and the general public and, based on those discussions, made improvements to the original plan. He also said the plan to expand Review Avenue will help reduce the number of garbage trucks on neighborhood streets.

“Shifting the export of western Queens residential waste to rail will eliminate over 300 diesel tractor-trailer truck trips per week, or 2.2 million miles of truck trips per year,” said spokesman George McGrath. “This will significantly reduce the truck traffic and vehicle emissions in local neighborho­ods.”

Representatives from the Juniper Park Civic Association and Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions were also on hand at the rally to trash the rail expansion plan.

A CURES representative said the entire rail system needs technological upgrades geared toward protecting the surrounding communities from possible air and noise pollution.

“[Rail expansions] continue to come without technological upgrades — for diesel emissions reduction and noise abatement — and without alternatives to the overreliance on tiny, 10-acre, 15-track Fresh Pond,” said CURES Co-chair Mary Parisen. “Noisy, old, high-polluting Tier 0 locomotives owned by the state of New York need to be repowered. State-of-the-art noise abatement and freight containment technologies must replace the outmoded technologies in use today.”

Middle Village resident Ed Cataldo was far more direct with his criticisms, saying the people who live along the rails are being used as “sacrificial lambs for the city.”

“Not one cent for sound barriers and a complete cover to protect our health and quality of life,” said Cataldo, referring to solutions he believes could help alleviate some problems. “Children, seniors and adults be damned in Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and Maspeth. The air stinks and that’s a fact.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 6:21 pm, July 11, 2012
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