Climate change now threatens an ill-conceived garbage dump
Like the rest of New York, Gov. Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn have now become acutely aware that there is a new normal: climate change, extreme weather events and crumbling infrastructure must inform every public policy decision made about our city.
We must now revisit the mayor and Speaker Quinn’s mistaken decision to site a marine transfer station (for those who prefer less euphemistic language, it’s actually a garbage dump) in an Upper East Side residential neighborhood, right off the East River and next to one of the largest athletic facilities for children in the country.
Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn must finally see their folly—like the Mayor finally did on the scheduled marathon recently—and immediately cancel this garbage dump that will threaten New Yorkers’ health. Perhaps most poignantly, this marine transfer station will potentially hurt the area’s many poor residents and the thousands of children who could be exposed to carcinogens, hazardous air pollutants and the potential for contaminated water flooding off the East River during a future extreme weather event.
Obviously, recent events affecting the East River highlight the enormous risk in locating a garbage station on the far east end of 91st Street. The proposed site is located in a hurricane flood zone that has been classified “A” by the City’s Office of Emergency Management. The FDR Drive, which is adjacent to the East 91st Street site, has flooded more than six times in the past four years, causing temporary closures.
Flooding of the garbage station or the barges carrying garbage from the facility could contaminate the East River and nearby residential neighborhoods. During Hurricane Sandy, sewage, bacteria, gasoline and debris contaminated New York City’s waterways, threatening human health. River water containing this contamination flowed down residential streets from the FDR Drive to York Avenue. In addition, Asphalt Green’s facilities suffered water damage from the hurricane, and the defunct garbage station, which is over the East River, is likely to have suffered damage as well.
We could go on to cite many statistics and reasons to stop this stinky plan. Here’s just a few: There are 2,200 public housing residents who live nearby and will be put at risk. As will the 40,000 children who use Asphalt Green and will be exposed to the 2,000 garbage trucks and their diesel fuel emissions and pollutants 24/6.
But this plan is so wrong—especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy—that we will not waste more paper and ink today explaining why the Mayor and Speaker Quinn must halt this plan now.
If there is not a halt to this folly, Our Town plans to keep this issue on our front page and our news pages consistently in the coming months until we get the attention from Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn and a reversal of this plan. If you agree with us on this, please send a brief letter to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will present these to the mayor’s and speaker’s offices and we will publish many of these letters in our paper and on our website in the coming weeks.
It’s one thing to acknowledge the reality of climate change and endorse a presidential candidate because of that, but it’s an even more important thing to realize that because of the new normal, the plan to site a garbage dump in the middle of Hurricane Zone A is dangerous and wrong.
Mayor Bloomberg: listen to your better angels like you did recently on the Marathon. STOP the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station.
Our kids—and our city’s health—depend on your decision.
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