Advocates Protest SWMP Delays (UPDATE)
April 12th, 2011
Five years after the City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to a solid waste management plan for the five boroughs — one that spread out the city’s garbage burden — council members and environmental justice advocates say the adminsitration is backpedaling.
In its preliminary capital budget, the adminsitration has delayed the construction of four waste transfer stations, three of which are in Manhattan. The cut, said Eric Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council, could delay funding for these facilities between five and eight years. Advocates fear the stations will never occur. Five years from now, there will be a new occupant in City Hall — one perhaps with different priorities.
“We are very troubled,” said Goldstein.
The waste transfer stations are a crucial part of the 2006 solid waste management plan, which attempts to get garbage off of diesel-spewing trucks and onto rail cars and barges instead. The plan was also meant to spread stations throughout the five boroughs to ease the burden on communities inundated with city waste — like the South Bronx, Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The delayed stations in Manhattan are the only ones slated for the borough, which currently sends the vast majority of its trash to New Jersey.
We are waiting for a response from the Department of Sanitation.
Advocates also decried the administration’s recent exploration of waste-to-energy — a controversial technology that typically involves burning or heating trash to create electricity (We reported on it here two weeks ago). Laura Haight of the New York Public Interest Research Group decried the move.
“The types of technology they want to pilot have not been proven successful commercially anywhere in the country,” said Haight. “We believe this is a waste of energy.”
A conversation on the equal distribution of these types of facilities is occurring right now at a hearing of the Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses Subcommittee. Councilmember Brad Lander, the committee’s chair, blasted the adminsitration for refusing to testify (his letter appears below).
“We’ve concentrated those facilities in low-income communities, in communities of color,” Lander said this afternoon on the City Hall steps.
A spokesperson for the Bloomberg adminsitration said they would not send a representative, because “fair share,” as it’s commonly referred to, is currently the subject of litigation.
UPDATE: We just got this response from City Hall spokesperson Jason Post:
By Courtney Gross on April 12, 2011, 2:22 pm
Because of the economy, the City has been forced to reduce all of its expenditures, including its capital program.
The preliminary capital budget for the Sanitation Department includes deferred spending on four Marine Transfer Stations.
The Administration remains fully committed to SWMP’s principles of borough equity, using rail and barge to transfer solid waste, relieving the burden of waste receiving from certain communities, strengthening our recycling infrastructure and piloting new technologies to derive clean energy from waste.
We have made great progress on SWMP already—long term rail contracts are in place and two marine transfer stations are under construction, as is the City’s new recycling facility—and we are exploring cost-effective alternatives to expedite the construction schedule outlined in the preliminary capital plan. We will make a decision before the Mayor’s executive budget presentation.
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