Citing a highly flawed and defective Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Assemblymember William Colton (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the New York State Assembly’s Solid Waste Commission, has come out strongly opposed to the construction of a Waste Transfer Station in Southwest Brooklyn.
Colton, who before he was elected to the Assembly in 1996 did pro bono work in the 1980’s on behalf of community organizations to close down the Southwest Brooklyn incinerator, has now focused his attention squarely around the Department of Sanitation’s (DOS) plan to convert the old incinerator site, located nearby 26th Avenue and Shore Parkway, into a waste transfer facility.
"The environmental impact study which was released by the Department of Sanitation is treacherously flawed," said Colton. "What is at stake here is the quality of life of an entire community that has greatly suffered for decades due to the pollution-spewing incinerator, which operated without a permit for over thirty years," he added.
The DOS, according to their study, plans to truck in approximately 1,800 tons of garbage per day to the proposed waste facility, made up by both residential and commercial garbage, to be containerized and then shipped out to unspecified destinations. "The official capacity for all transfer stations is 4,250 tons of garbage per day, so how exactly will we know how much garbage is being processed at this facility?" asked the state lawmaker. He also points to the study’s declaration that traffic patterns will not be significantly affected by the proposal. "I strongly recommend any DOS official to take a drive by Bay Parkway and Shore Parkway any given afternoon, see the traffic mess that already exists, and then tell me with a straight face that the addition of numerous garbage trucks on the road will not greatly impact the community," said an enraged Colton. "This community and I will not be fooled," he added.
In addition, the legislator notes that the environmental study released by the DOS does not address the impact the facility will have upon schools, senior housing, recreational and health care facilities in the surrounding community. "Nellie Bly is right near the proposed site and will attract hundreds, if not thousands of children during the Spring and Summer months, but this study completely ignores what impact the transfer station will have upon this recreational site," charged Colton.
Another environmental concern Colton plans to stress is the affect the waste station, with its barges on the water shipping out garbage, will have upon the water and the wildlife that is dependent upon clean water. "The dredging that the barges will require will stir up potential hazardous substances found at the ocean floor and will contaminate everything in its path," declared Colton. "As the dredging will cause environmental chaos, the force that the barges will exert upon the water will churn up waves that may cause severe damage to a neighboring marina, owned by a family business," the state official added.
By failing to address a growing number of concerns, Colton declared the DEIS "inept." Colton stated: "The whole point of an environmental impact statement is to highlight all of the potential adverse impacts a project will have upon a community. This DEIS fails to do so and is therefore false and invalid."
The Assemblymember has initiated a community-wide effort by sending out a mailing to the adjacent neighborhood calling upon neighborhood residents to be a part of a task force he created, co-chaired by experienced community leaders, Charles Ragusa and Jeanette Givant, to fight against this proposal. The Quality of Life Committee (QOLC) is one of many neighborhood civic organizations Colton is working actively with to wage a successful fight against the waste transfer station.
Aside from the grassroots effort, the New York City Council is due to vote on the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan soon and Colton along with others plan to pressure the council to vote the transfer station down. "I am going to mobilize this community to the fullest extent that I can to pressure the NYC Council to vote down this plan," said the state legislator. "We are going to hold New York City officials accountable for their actions or inactions," he added.
The lawmaker is scheduling a whole host of meetings and events with the newly created task force and will be reaching out to other community organizations, like the QOLC, to begin asserting pressure on city officials to scrap their plans for a waste facility in Southwest Brooklyn.