By Madina Toure

Elected officials representing Glendale, Middle Village and Ridgewood have secured more time for residents to voice their opinions on plans to increase the amount of waste that rail cars transport through their neighborhoods.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) were among officials who convinced the state Department of Environmental Conservation to extend the public comment period on permits to expand the amount and type of debris that One World Recycling, Inc. in Lindenhurst and Coastal Distribution LLC in Farmingdale are seeking to ship through the Fresh Pond Rail Yard.

The public can now submit comments through Aug. 9. The previous deadline was July 10. The comment period started June 22. DEC will use the comments as a factor in determining whether to issue the permits.

The New York and Atlantic Railway transports debris on freight rail cars through the Fresh Pond Rail Yard, whose tracks run along residential communities in Glendale, Middle Village and Ridgewood.

On June 19, the DEC released two draft permits to increase the amount and type of waste transported through Fresh Pond Rail Yard, according to a letter dated June 26 that the elected officials wrote to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens.

The officials noted that Coastal Distribution LLC wants to expand the type of waste it transports to include commercial and residential waste. The company was also planning to test out three types of enclosures to contain the waste.

One World Recycling, they said, was seeking to increase the overall quantity of waste it transports in the area.

In the letter, the officials called for a community forum to be held on the issue in addition to extending the comment period.

Crowley, who has been dealing with the issue since she took office, said there was a moratorium on the movement of freight on the rails until 2005.

They discovered that some of the companies were mixing construction debris, which consists of brick, mortar and wood, with putrescible waste, which includes organic and other types of household waste, which is not allowed.

In addition to the nasty smell that results from the mixture, residents are also bothered by the noise of the trains and the rodents that come due to the garbage, she said.

“There are so many people not only in my area that I represent but all along the rail that should know that these companies want to move more waste and how that would impact their quality of life,” Crowley said.

Meng said the move would allow residents to have a voice on the matter.

“We first heard about this and that there was only 19 days that the commissioner had allotted for public comment and so we wanted a little more time because this is an issue that really affects the quality of life of our communities there,” Meng said.

Mary Parisen, chairwoman of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions, an advocacy group, wrote a letter to Martens dated June 12 asking for state law to be updated to give DEC powers to enforce sealed containment of waste-by-rail at trash transfer stations.

“Their mission is to make sure that the increasing amount of railroad traffic doesn’t come at a cost to the community’s quality of life and environmental concerns,” Meng said. “They’ve been doing a great job.”

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood), state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), state Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz were also part of the effort.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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