Gentile Calls On EPA To Make Waste Transfer Station A Superfund Site

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Councilman Vincent Gentile is joining the chorus of voices calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the construction site of the city’s planned Gravesend Bay Waste Transfer Station.

Last week, Gentile penned a letter to New York City’s EPA branch, calling for the agency to conduct a preliminary assessment and consider prioritizing the area as a Superfund.

The councilman first raised the idea of making the area a Superfund site at a forum last spring, during his run for 11th Congressional District seat. Gentile vowed that, if elected, he would halt construction operations immediately and would consider making the area a Superfund. Thought he wound up losing the election to former Staten Island district attorney Daniel Donovan, Gentile has apparently not forgotten that promise.

In the letter, the councilman highlighted concerns that construction at 400 Bay is dredging up toxic substances found at the site, possibly deposited by a city-operated garbage incinerator that once operated there:

The site was used for an incinerator for over three decades. The burning of many different types of waste generated a multitude of toxins, including mercury, chlordane, and mirex, that remain in the ashes at the bottom of the site today. The smoke from the substances was enough to cause reports of increased asthma and cancer rates as well as other health conditions in the immediately surrounding residences, and so there is already evidence of the negative impact of these chemicals. What’s more, there are potentially active shells at the site from a munitions ship that capsized there in 1954.

We are at risk for the chemicals left by the incinerator being disseminated throughout New York City waters should the shells explode.

I bring your attention to 400 Bay now because there is active construction going on to convert the site into a marine waste transfer station. The conversion process would require dredging, and thereby heavily risk the displacement and dispersal of toxic substances as well as the destructive and further dispersing effects of the explosives should they be detonated by the dredging. Before any further construction occurs, my constituents and I need to be assured that the area is safe from harmful substances.

Gentile originally voted in favor of building the waste transfer station in City Council in 2006, but has since changed his tune, saying that he was not aware of the dangerous chemicals in the area at the time. Had he known of the toxins, he would have voted against the plan, he said.

Superfunds, which are among the government’s more complicated environmental cleanup programs, identify the polluters and force them to pay for the cleanup.

At the forefront of the fight against the waste transfer station is Assemblyman William Colton, who has been waging a years-long legal battle against the city project. Recently, the assemblyman set up a Neighborhood Watch group and hotline for neighbors to call and report violations at the construction site. Last week, he also called on the EPA to investigate the site of the trash facility, providing photos and video of construction-related debris that had washed into Gravesend Bay.

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    This transfer station will have an extremely toxic impact on our community and this should never been allowed to take place. Sadly, Mr. Gentile has forgotten that he voted to allow this transfer station to be located in our community.
    Assemblyman William Colton and Mark Treger has been fighting this issue for years. Sadly this is not the only environmental issue that will cause a toxic environmental impact in this community. There are many other issues and no one seems concerned about them except for me, e.g., automobile idling, trucks, school buses, private and public sanitation using local streets as a route to get from point A to point B not for picking up or dropping off, garbage dumping, traffic, noise, etc. I have spoken to neighbors regarding these issues and they are unhappy about the problems but they do not complain. Many of my neighbors do not speak English and are unaware of their rights. Other neighbors are afraid to fight for their rights. And some neighbors feel that even if they complain nothing will change and unfortunately I have found that to be true. I have made many complaints regarding our environment in this community and unfortunately no one has resolved any of these issues. In fact in the past 4 years things have gotten worse. I have spoken to Community Board 11, local politicians and government agencies and they have all closed their eyes to the problems in this community. I believe there is definitely ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE in my community due to the fact that no one has tried to protect the residents from this and future issues which will cause more traffic, air and noise pollution. One person cannot fight for a whole community, with the exception of the Pope who has a very important message about what will happen to our world if we do not take care of our planet. I do hope the Churches will start preaching this message to their parishioners since they constantly are idling their cars, beeping their horns or tie up traffic while waiting to pick up passengers, etc, Maybe this does not seem like such a big problem but I have been dealing with this and other issues not only because of the Church, but because of construction, businesses, residents, visitors, etc., 24/7. In addition, a Community Center is almost constructed. This Center will have 2 parking lots and will have very long hours. This will encourage their clients to drive to our community which will cause more traffic, air and noise pollution. I wish someone would help our community as we do not want to die from this pollution!!!!