All Boroughs to Share Burden of NYC Trash

Solid waste is transported outside of Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Dealing with New York City’s 25,000 tons of trash each day is getting harder all the time.

Garbage treatment facilities exist around the city in areas that were once industrial, but are now more residential. According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Solid Waste Management Plan, one of the city’s environmental goals is borough equity: all five have to share the burden of the city’s garbage.

And a state appeals court decision last month upheld the city’s right to build a new facility in Manhattan, against resident’s objections.No solution is popular, but New Yorkers can agree on one thing: nobody wants garbage in their backyard. Annie Russell reports.
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N: It’s a sunny day in Greenpoint. A perfect day for a stroll. How about the Newtown Creek Nature Walk? The quarter-mile stretch of public space opened in 2007 and sits in the industrial area right next to the Newtown Creek Sewage Treatment Plant. The silver entrance gates sparkle in the sunlight.

SOUND: Gate slamming.

N: But the walk itself is less emerald city, more wicked witch’s castle. A concrete passageway snakes around a parking lot, an asphalt factory, and utilitarian office buildings.

The view? The New York Skyline. And a giant pile of trash.

Kyoko Masutni biked here to eat lunch overlooking the water. She won’t go closer than that.

A: MASUTNI 1: “My boyfriend tries to canoe, even though he is aware it’s polluted.”

As she eats her tofu sandwich, she’s gazing across the creek at the industrial landscape.

SOUND: Water in the creek

N: She lives around here and she knows about the neighborhood’s other environmental issues, like the underground oil spill, and radioactive waste storage facility nearby. Masutni thinks about that.

A: MASUTNI 2: “I’m probably not staying in North Brooklyn for long term.”

N: The waste treatment plant doesn’t make it any more attractive. North Brooklyn and the South Bronx are home to most of the city’s sanitation facilities. Together they handle about 30% of the city’s trash.

That inequality is why the city wants to build a Marine Transfer Station on East 91st street and the East River in Manhattan, directly through an athletic center. The idea is not popular.

A: MACK 1: “It’s a significant safety hazard, just to pedestrians, to children. The fact that the entrance ramp bisects the Asphalt Green facility is very worrisome.

N: That’s David Mack. He’s the Vice President of Residents for Sane Trash Solutions, an Upper East Side group that opposes the facility.

He says the East side station will increase garbage truck traffic and will not necessarily relieve the burden on outer boroughs, since much of Manhattan’s garbage is now transported to New Jersey. But he says a city officials have told him there’s a quid pro quo.

A: MACK 2 “This facility has to be built, because we struck a deal with these other communities that if they had a waste transfer site built, that you would have one built.”

No one from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection was available to speak on tape. But the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan cites environmental studies that say spreading these facilities around is healthier for New Yorkers.

Annie Russell, Columbia Radio News.

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