The fight against the waste transfer station situated in Gravesend Bay has come full circle for neighborhood activist Dorothy Mortman.The 87-year-old Mortman was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago. Given that she has no cancer in her family, she believes it was caused by the smoke and ash from the old incinerator located two blocks from her Bensonhurst home.
“It’s not genetic. Nobody in my family had it and I don’t carry the genes,” said Mortman, 87.
Mortman refuses to allow a new waste transfer site to be built in that location. She is standing alongside other environmental and community activists in suing to block the proposed $87.7 million waste transfer site at the edge of Bay 41st Street near Gravesend Bay.
“For more than 30 years, that incinerator spewed contaminants into the land, water and air and the effects are still being felt by residents today,” Assemblyman William Colton said to the New York Post. “There’s no way we’re going to allow those contaminants to be dug up and pose another threat to the community.”
Colton is leading the suit against the waste transfer station.
Vicki Grubman, who has lived blocks away from the proposed Brooklyn site for many years, remembers an anonymous survey conducted in the 90s asking residents to discuss their health problems.
“One person said there were 15 people on their floor who died from cancer and they had no one left from their family to respond to the survey,” she said.
Local environmental groups like Wake up and Smell the Garbage and the No Spray Coalition state that the site will further pollute the water, killing off a delicate eco-system that already suffers from pollution and harming children and residents in nearby areas.
For Mortman, though there has been no conclusive scientific link between the site and her cancer, she knows it to be true. And her fight is not for her own health, but for the health of the future generations who will play in the local parks.
“It’s too late for me because I’m an old woman, but we have young children here,” she said.