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BIG SCREECHER

An expert opinion on transfer station dangers

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While we all wait for the New York State Department of Conservations’ administrative law judge Edward Buhrmaster to give his opinion on the issues that were raised at the public hearing and at an issues conference last month that are pertinent to NY City's plan to construct a 10-story Garbage Transfer Station right on the environmentally sensitive Gravesend Bay, I thought I'd update you on one of the testimonies presented, so that you have an idea of the high quality of information given by the Anti -Transfer Waste Station Coalition spearheaded by our Assemblyman Bill Colton. And why this site is definitely the wrong location for such a facility On Pesticide/­Rodenticide use at or near the proposed SW Brooklyn MTS (Marine Transfer Station, aka Garbage Station), here is the statement of John Zuzworsky, Refuge Operational Specialist of the National Park Service. ”I have examined the pesticide and rodenticide concerns posed by the proposed SW Marine Transfer Station (SWMTS.) I have more than twenty years of personal and professional experience studying, inventorying, and protecting natural resources in near-by Jamaica Bay. Furthermore, I have prepared gull, heron and other bird studies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands that are located in the forage zone in lower New York Harbor incorporating the MTS. My professional experience in marine and coastal areas includes: extensive integrated pest management; mosquito surveillance and control; served as the vector control biologist for Fire Island National Seashore. In addition, I am a New York State DEC licensed commercial pesticide applicator. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) describes the natural resources at the SW MTS as being one of three Marine Transfer Station's with the greatest biological integrity. This area has the greatest number of Essential Fish Habitat ("EFH") listed fish, mud crabs, anchovy, weakfish, scup, summer flounder, Atlantic herring and Black Sea Bass. to name only a few. (FEIS 5-39) The FEIS does not include the abundant, breeding, wintering and migratory bird life present in the immediate surrounding area. A. Site too close to natural terrestrial and marine life to use rodenticide. The DSNY (Department of Sanitation of NY) plans for pest control is insufficient and inappropriate. Regarding the methods of preventing pest access that DSNY proposes, it is clear that abundant populations of several pest species will arrive with the garbage and reproduce at and near the facility. The varieties of pests include rats, mice, flies, cockroaches and mosquitoes. Of particular concern is the potential secondary poisoning of birds from the use of rodenticide baits. Rodenticide poisons remain active in dying and dead rodents. These rodents will most likely be eaten by many species of birds, such as the Peregrine Falcon. Some of these dead rodents will end up in the waters and be eaten by fish. As part of the integrated pest management program I run, I control rodents at Canarsie Pier, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area. Canarsie Pier is located on the water in Jamaica Bay, a designated tidal wetland, very close to Gravesend Bay. Because of its proximity to the water, and important wildlife resources, including fish, gulls, and herons, it is environmentally unsound to use rodenticide baits. Mechanical trapping at this site is time consuming and requires continuous attention. This site is nowhere near the challenge that the SWMTS will present. Rodenticides are too dangerous to use at the Marine Transfer Station site, due to the well-documented natural resources-- especially bird, fish, and marine organisms. Mechanical trapping at this site would be a daunting task if at all possible. The permit application and the FEIS both reference conducting pest control about every forty-five days. Final Part 360 Permit Application, Engineering Report, p.71. Mechanical rodent trapping would require several trips per week, in addition to all other pest control requirements. As a pest management specialist, working in close proximity to natural resources, I have worked very hard to develop safe pesticide techniques in order to bring my federal agency to meet environmentally sound standards. In large organizations and in difficult pesticide scenarios safe pest control requires elaborate planning and foresight. I see no evidence of this type of planning or forethought in either the FEIS or Southwest Brooklyn MTS permit application. B. Site is too close to water for application of many pesticides used to control flies, cockroaches and mosquitoes. Drift and runoff issues create a dangerous situation for marine organisms. This type of facility will harbor pests that are extremely difficult to control. DSNY's options are limited. Many pesticides are heavily regulated and/or prohibited for use near water due to their harmful effect on marine resources. If these pesticides are used within DSNY's proposed guidelines there is increased potential for drift due to the wind conditions and its proximity to the water. Run-off of pesticides from washing of trucks, barges, and/or equipment is problematic. DSNY provides no reference or plan to address this issue. Neither has it indicated that this issue was considered. C. The enclosed nature of the waste transfer building and its long operation hours potentially expose workers to persistent and residual pesticides. There is no information provided on what parts of the facility will be treated, how they will be treated, or what pesticides, whether residual or non-residual, will be used. There is no indication if workers will be present at the time of pesticide applications or how they will be protected. Many governmental agencies have integrated pest management plans, or follow the pest practices guidelines. There is no mention of compliance with New York City local law 37, which requires the reduction in the use of pesticides by city agencies. With such important natural resources within the impact zone of any pesticides applied, DSNY must provide information and analysis of pesticides and their manner of use in its policy and protocols, as tailored to this particular situation. Recently $400,000 was spent to improve horseshoe crab habitat in Gravesend Bay. A multimillion-dollar improvement is scheduled for Drier Offerman Park to make it a regional park that will include nature trails. DSNY's plans not only fail to guarantee protection of marine and terrestrial wildlife, it imminently endangers.” So here is a very impressive argument against the SW Marine Transfer Station. Note that it doesn’t include the other valid arguments stated at the hearings. For the past thirty years or so I was involved with the Narrow Verrazano Youth Program (NVYP) that operated the beautiful baseball diamonds near the Garbage site, at that time the area was known as Tobacco Road, coined by Herb Berman the Publisher and Founder of this newspaper. The NVYP was a coalition of activists that really did the groundwork in building the fields and the area. And through their tireless efforts their fields were the best-maintained fields in the city according to Parks Commissioner Julie Spiegel. Of course the fields had many problems with rats and vermin, including the human vermin that would vandalize the playing fields and illegally dump garbage on Shore Road aka Tobacco Road. Nonetheless, the 72 acres of Drier Offerman Park…that was the landfill of the Verrazano Bridge, has become a very important breeding ground for wildlife as well as the marine life in the adjoining Gravesend Bay. And we the neighboring residents finally have high hopes for a magnificent recreational area that we could use, and again the Department of Sanitation is looking to usurp our area with a non-wanted facility…dangerous to all! Kudos to Assemblyman Colton and his Anti-SWMTS Task Force who led this community as well as the neighboring communities to fight the Marine Transfer Station and alerted us to the many dangers that will devastate us if built. They spent many months and countless hours to protect us. Screech at you next week!

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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