Source: Colton’s office
The following is a press release from Assemblyman Bill Colton’s office:
Two communities in New York City have come together to fight against the City of New York’s Solid Waste Management Plan by rallying against the proposed Gravesend Bay Marine Waste Transfer Station (1824 Shore Parkway, between Bay 41st Street & 26th Avenue). This rally was held on Sunday, June 1, at 1:00 pm at the Bay Parkway Promenade, along the water’s edge, between Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center and Bensonhurst Park, in southwest Brooklyn.
The two communities that rallyied this Sunday are southern Brooklyn, represented by the organization S.T.R.O.N.G., and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, represented by the organization Pledge2Protect. These two organizations are organizing this rally, along with the offices of Assemblyman Bill Colton, and City Councilmen Mark Treyger, Vincent Gentile, and Ben Kallos.
These two communities and groups joined at this rally to raise their opposition to the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). Pledge 2 Protect and S.T.R.O.N.G. both agree that this plan does not reach its mission and does not reach its objectives in helping “to equip the City with an equitable, environmentally sound, operationally efficient and cost-effective barge and rail-based solid waste transfer and export system” (Source: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8498.html). Rather, the Solid Waste Management Plan is self-defeating. The hundreds of millions of dollars that is being spent on this plan could be used in increasing the amount of recycling in the city. We believe that recycling more waste is the sounder and more efficient long-term solution – it is the real answer. Recycling trash, not dumping or transferring it is the real way to relieve burdens on residential communities.
At Sunday’s rally, there were elected officials and community leaders from both Pledge 2 Protect & the Upper East Side, and S.T.R.O.N.G. & Southern Brooklyn exposing the problems of City’s Solid Waste Management Plan. These public officials and civic leaders raised their concerns about the environmental, public health and safety issues of these two garbage station proposals. These issues will affect the quality of life of both communities of Southern Brooklyn and the Upper East Side. These two communities and organizations have come together to stop this plan, and showed their alliance at this rally in opposition to these proposed garbage stations.
S.T.R.O.N.G. (Sandy Task-Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups was founded in January 2013 by Councilman Mark Treyger in response to the devastation felt by so many families in southern Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy. Last year, S.T.R.O.N.G. formed a coalition, titled “DUMP THE DUMP,” with community leaders, elected officials, and neighborhood organizations from across southern Brooklyn to stop this dangerous garbage station. These elected officials, organizations, and leaders are from neighborhoods including: Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Mill Basin, Canarsie, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bergen Beach, and Bay Ridge.
Also organizing this rally was Assemblyman Bill Colton (D-47th Assembly District). Assemblyman Colton has been fighting against the proposed Gravesend Bay Garbage Station since 2005, and in 2012 he filed a lawsuit to block the city’s plan to construct and operate a waste transfer station at this location, near Shore Parkway and Bay 41st Street in Bensonhurst. This location is the site of the former Southwest Brooklyn incinerator. Currently, the legal battle is continuing in court. Colton also led a successful lawsuit in the late 1980s and early 1990s to shut down the Southwest Brooklyn incinerator.
If built, this garbage station will cause serious public health, environmental, and safety concerns for neighborhoods throughout southern Brooklyn and all along the waterways of New York City and adjacent states. Some examples:
RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD: The proposed site for the southwest Brooklyn garbage station is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, where people live, work, and play. There are many schools nearby, including 20 private and public schools within two miles from the proposed site, including the Block Institute, located at Bay 44th Street, which services children and adults with disabilities.
There are also two buildings, which house large numbers of senior citizens, including the Haym Salomon Home for Nursing & Rehabilitation, Regina Pacis Housing, and The Sephardic Home. In addition to this large population of elderly, there are many high-rise apartment and co-op buildings located near the site, including Contello Towers and Waterview Towers across the Belt Parkway, which are 17 stories tall and are home for thousands of people.
There are several NYCHA developments located in Coney Island, only a mile away from the proposed garbage station site, including Coney Island Houses, Haber Houses, Unity Towers, Carey Gardens Houses, and Gravesend Houses.
Additionally, Adventurers Amusement Park & Entertainment Center, Marine Basin Marina, and Calvert Vaux Park are located nearby.
STREET TRAFFIC: The operation of the Gravesend Bay MTS will lead to increased numbers of sanitation trucks and vehicle traffic on the surrounding streets of Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and adjacent communities.
There is only one road leading to the proposed site (Shore Parkway, which can only be accessed by trucks via Bay Parkway), and the site is located next to the Belt Parkway and near a major shopping center. The growth in traffic congestion on these already crowded and busy streets will increase the probability of vehicular-pedestrian accidents and create noise and air pollution that will adversely affect the quality of life.
AN OVERBURDENED AREA: For 30 years, the City operated an illegal incinerator at this site; as a result, nearby residents have reported increased cases of cancer, asthma, and other serious chronic ailments. They woke up each morning to find ash from incineration on their windows. All of southern Brooklyn and its diverse communities, including minority communities of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians, will be negatively affected by this plan.
WORLD WAR II BOMBS – DREDGING THREAT: The USS Bennington, a World War II aircraft barge capsized in Gravesend Bay in 1954 and dropped 1,500 live bombs (“World War II-era copper artillery shells — including one five-feet long — designed to shoot down airplanes, and about 1,500 large-caliber machine-gun shells designed to explode on contact” source: http://nypost.com/2010/10/24/diver-has-blast-with-historic-discovery/) to the bottom of the highly turbulent water. Professional divers have confirmed that such a large number of munitions, which can explode upon impact, lie at the bottom of the Bay. Specialists have confirmed that the action of dredging can indeed ignite a catastrophic explosion of numerous bombs at once causing untold damage to property and wildlife and possible deaths.
TOXIC CHEMICALS – DREDGING THREAT: There are highly-concentrated amounts of extremely toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic, as well as now-outlawed insecticides and pesticides such as Mirex buried by sand and silt at the bottom of Gravesend Bay. These chemicals, which threaten the health of nearby residents every day were spewed into these waters by the City through the operation of the closed incinerator. To build this garbage station, the City has confirmed they will need to dredge the bottom of Gravesend Bay repeatedly, which will release these toxic chemicals into the air and water.
Assemblyman William Colton (D-47th Assembly District) funded a study of the Gravesend Bay floor bed, and scientists confirmed the high levels of dangerous toxins. “Black mayonnaise,” was the term used by scientists in their analysis to describe the condition of the sand at the bottom of Gravesend Bay. The samples were taken from the top few inches of the bay floor bed, not a deep dig. Dredging will go several feet down into the decades of dangerous debris, bringing it to the surface, where it will travel along with the water’s current into other areas and to the shoreline. In 2012, before Hurricane Sandy hit, the NYC Department of Sanitation conducted a sediment sampling study of the bottom of Gravesend Bay. It found Type C Acutely Toxic Levels of Mercury, PCBs, Lead, Dieldrin, Chlordane, and Arsenic, and Type B Hazardously Toxic Levels of Lead, Cadmium, Dioxins, Mirex, and insecticides, among others, in the dredging area.
FLOOD ZONE: This site has been designated Zone 1 on the NYC Hurricane Evacuation Map and Zone A by FEMA, which describes this as a high-risk area with a 1 in 4 chance of flooding. This site was severely flooded during Super-storm Sandy. Another storm of that strength or possibly lesser, will cause extensive flooding of this proposed Gravesend site, sending the trash into homes, schools, nursing homes, and shared public spaces. In addition to the fears brought from mold, Brooklynites will need to worry about the garbage and toxic chemicals that have flooded their properties and neighborhoods.
WATER AND BEACH POLLUTION: The people of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach will not be the only ones affected by this garbage station. Gravesend Bay is connected to Coney Island Creek, as well as the waters along Seagate, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin, Manhattan Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Toxic chemicals, debris and garbage from this pollution will spread out far beyond the boundaries of New York City.
Keep reading for statements from the elected officials, and for a list of coalition members.