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Rival groups battle it out during trash hearing

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After a rally at City Hall, advocates and opponents of a bill that would reduce city waste transfers in southeast Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx attended a five-hour City Council hearing on the measure last week.

The bill, Intro 495, would reduce the amount of trash sent to the overburdened neighborhoods by 18 percent or about 2,700 tons per day until the city’s marine transfer station becomes operational.

City Council members Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), the chairman of the Council’s Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, are the main co-sponsors of the bill and conducted the Feb. 10 hearing. About 23 council members support Intro 495, while Queens council members Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), and Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) either oppose it or have not taken a stance on the bill.

“North Brooklyn, south Bronx, and southeast Queen have their lives disrupted on a daily basis by a constant flow of trucks traveling to and from transfer stations and are forced to endure significant health risks from polluted air,” Levin said.

In 2006, the city passed a bill that addressed an environment-friendly waste processing system and the concentration of waste in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens. Yet waste reduction has been slow and concerned City Council leaders want action taken immediately.

“My community has suffered for too long from the negative effects of handling almost 40 percent of the waste processed in the city,” added Reynoso.

North Brooklyn and South Bronx bring over 30 percent of the city’s waste, while Queens handles almost 10 percent, according to Reynoso. One of the main waste facilities in southeast Queens is located within a residential area close to downtown Jamaica.

“Industrial businesses such as waste facilities operate in close proximity to residential communities [which] suffer the most from constant bombardment by heavy truck traffic,” said Crystal Ervin, a member of Southern Queens Residents Environmental Justice Council.

Some of the concerns cited were related to environmental health issues that could arise from the constant flow of diesel-fueled trucks into residential neighborhoods.

“Diesel exhaust is dangerous for the health of residents—especially children,” said Dr. Geoffrey Collins, Pediatric Environmental Health Fellow at the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Over a dozen advocacy groups in attendance thought that a more efficient sanitation system and increasing recycling would create more jobs, plus benefit the environment. Yet opponents of the bill, who also attended the rally and hearing, contended that reducing waste before the opening of the 91st Marine Transfer Station would create more traveling time for the trucks and job losses, defeating the purpose of the bill.

“If Intro 495 becomes law, garbage trucks will have to travel further to the transfer stations in northern Queens, western Brooklyn, and Staten Island. These trucks will then have to travel back to their yards, most of which are located in northern Brooklyn and western Queens. This will actually increase truck traffic,” said Tom Toscano, president of the New York Chapter of the National Waste and Recycling Association and Chief Financial Officer for Mr. T Carting Corp.

Tom Toscano along with others, testified in opposition to the bill, citing job loss, increased traffic, and higher costs for local businesses.

“While it seems that this bill has good intentions, it amplifies the problem it seeks to solve,” said Chris Hickey, regional director of the New York State Restaurant Association. “This law simply moves garbage from one place to another which will only exacerbate the problem and cause the loss of jobs in the process.”

Wills spoke out against the bill, citing job losses, during the hearing. Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia did state that despite opposition there is an opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions of the bill.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

Posted 12:00 am, February 19, 2015
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Reader feedback

Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
If figures that corrupt and recently arrested Councilman Ruben Wills would be against a bill that would actually benefit the quality of life in the area. Wills has the moral and ethics of a child molester. This man is a flat out uneducated political thug who has several indictments against him (probably will be in jail by the end of the year), has an assault charge against him and is a dead beat dad, behind on child support payments (http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/city-councilman-ruben-wills-new-york-knucklehead-article-1.1093824). Why would anyone believe what he states, which by the way is a lie as far as job loss or any of the other statements made by the dirty business, waste management. They have included not one fact or statistics and for good reason, they DO NO EXIST.

Obviously Wills is deep in the pockets of the waste industry as are the other council members who have voted against it or on the fence. Every time you think this ghetto thug politician sinks deeper into the sewage pit, he proves he can go even lower.

First off none of these waste stations should have been put in residential areas to begin with, so that just proves how little this industry has on these communities, which by the way are communities of color and on the lower economic end. Then they do not even follow the laws as far as having their trucks stay on truck routes and not residential streets.

As someone who lives several blocks from the Royal Waste facilities, the amount of trucks that travel illegally on 170th street is mind blogging. Not only a safety issue, but a major noise issue.

My question, what leaders gave the go ahead to dump these poisonous companies into the community to begin with many years ago? And who paid them off?

How about asking these industry hot shots and these corrupt politicians if they would allow these places on their blocks or in close proximity to them.

https://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/
Feb. 19, 2015, 2:17 pm
jerry from flushingp says:
Move......what do we tell people next to the airport ? Move the airport? Idiot...sounds like you were paid to write this rambling trash by the unions...get a life
Feb. 20, 2015, 4:05 pm
Jerry from Flushing, the Idiot from Idiotville says:
Jerry from Flushing, you are an idiot with your idiotic statement. First what are you even talking about the union, what does that have to do with anything and what was written.

Second, these waste facilities were dumped into residential communities, it was not like the facilities were built and then they developed a community around them. They should not have been put in an area close to residents and pose health risks to the community.

Typical Queens idiot.
Feb. 21, 2015, 11:23 am
Tom B from Brooklyn says:
First, all the facilities have been there for decades and residents knew that when they decided to buy or rent their properties. But now a vocal minority want the City to do something even dumber - let's move the trash farther causing more emissions, more traffic and more potential accidents. It all adds up to more cost for the City and to taxpayers.
March 8, 2015, 1:30 pm

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