Assemblyman Hevesi Announces Legislative Package in Effort to Stem Environmental Abuses by Rail Companies

Concerned residents and community leaders join together at a rally to tell train corporations that the days of their environmental abuses and community neglect are at an end
April 24, 2010

On Saturday, April 24, 2010 Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) joined with other elected officials, members of the community, and the Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) organization in an united effort to tell transportation companies whose trains are a constant source of environmental hazards that it is time to clean up their act.

At this press conference, Assemblyman Hevesi announced the introduction of four pieces of legislation designed to address issues surrounding the hauling of waste through our residential communities. His first bill, A. 10176, amends title 7 of article 27 of the environmental conservation law to require haulers of waste to cover putrescible waste with a hard sealing lid, and non putrescible waste with hard tarping. This bill was introduced on March 9th, and passed out of the Assembly Environmental Conservation committee on Tuesday March 23rd. It is currently pending in the Assembly Codes committee.

Assembly bill A.10396 enhances the penalty structure associated with titles 3 and 7 of article 27 of the environmental conservation law. Currently, there is no enhanced penalty scale for civil sanctions. If an entity is found to have committed a violation of either of these titles, they are subject to the sanction level for the first day of the violation and charged a fine for each additional day the violation was found to have occurred. However, if the same entity is found to commit the same type of violation on a subsequent occasion, they are subject to the same set of fines. This bill establishes an enhanced penalty structure to increase the fines for an entity that violates a second and third time. A.10396 passed out of the environmental conservation committee on Tuesday, April 27, 2010.

Assembly bill A.10819 amends the public authorities law to ensure that certain terms and conditions, specifically environmental standards, are present in contracts or lease agreements involving the MTA when they lease their rail lines for the purposes of hauling freight. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority enters into agreements to lease MTA rail lines to companies that haul freight. This legislation requires the MTA to insert certain terms and provisions in any future contract or lease agreement, specifically related to the containment of putrescible and non putrescible waste by requiring the entity leasing the lines to cover putrescible waste with hard sealing lids and to cover non putrescible waste with hard tarping.

Finally, Assembly bill A.10820 relates to reimbursement to municipal corporations for costs associated with the release or threatened release of any putrescible or non- putrescible waste. There are documented incidents in which waste haulers have caused putrescible and/or non putrescible waste to be spilled that has resulted in the need to evacuate neighboring residential areas in response to the presence or threat of fire from these spills. Properly transported, these emergencies could be avoided. This legislation requires a hauler of putrescible or non-putrescible waste that causes the need for emergency response to be called to an incident or threat of an incident to reimburse the municipality for the costs associated with the emergency response.