Solid Waste

NYC-EJA led efforts for a comprehensive policy to address solid waste and the impacts of dozens of waste transfer stations on a handful of low income communities of color throughout New York City. To that end, NYC-EJA and NY Lawyers for the Public Interest co-founded and helped staff the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods (OWN) in 1996. For the next decade, NYC-EJA, OWN and NYLPI fought for a more equitable waste management system. Beginning in 2001, the coalition worked closely with the Bloomberg Administration and City Council to develop the landmark 20-year Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) in 2006, which relied for the first time on principles of environmental justice and borough equity. The 2006 SWMP mandates a switch from a truck-based system of waste export ravaging a handful of overburdened communities to a system based on an equitably sited network of marine and rail transfer stations spread throughout the City. The SWMP also committed to broadened recycling and waste reduction policies. Several communities in New York City (most notably Williamsburg/Greenpoint, the South Bronx, Sunset Park and SE Queens) are ringed by heavy manufacturing zones along their waterfronts or have mixed use zones within their borders. These areas have become saturated with privately owned and operated waste transfer stations that handle commercial waste from the city’s hotels, offices and restaurants. The transfer stations, where waste is shifted from collection vehicles to long haul trucks, bring thousands of heavy diesel trucks through these communities each day, communities with some of the highest asthma rates in the country. Since the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill, over 80% of the City’s solid waste is processed in a handful of EJ communities throughout the city.

In addition to SWMP negotiations with the Bloomberg Administration and City Council, NYC-EJA and OWN also successfully advocated that the NYS legislature in 2008 approve the Gansevoort Recycling Plant proposal for the West Village, a key SWMP component. Over the years, NYC-EJA’s efforts with NYLPI & OWN defeated the siting of several regional mega-waste transfer stations proposed for Red Hook, Williamsburg and the South Bronx, as well as the passage of several laws, including the implementation of Local Law 40 (siting regulations for waste transfer stations) and new operational regulations for transfer stations. As a result, our campaign altered an essential City service and the largest waste management system of any U.S. city.

For more information read, “Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice,” by Julie Sze (2006); “We Won’t Move: Community Planning in The Real Estate Capital of the World,” by Tom Angotti (2008); and “The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs,” by Roberta Brandes Gratz (2010).

Also see the upcoming case study by Baruch College and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

Resources

Barge NYC’s Garbage

Waste Transfer Stations and Communities of Color

Waste Transfer Stations and Low Income Communities

Press Statements

Speaker Quinn Announces Major Expansion of NYC Recycling Program

MAYOR BLOOMBERG, GOVERNOR PATERSON, SPEAKER SILVER, MAJORITY LEADER SKELOS AND SPEAKER QUINN ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT ON PLAN TO REACTIVATE GANSEVOORT MARINE TRANSFER STATION

MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION TO ESTABLISH SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN

 

 

Residents Rally Against Plan To Reopen Garbage Transfer Station In NYC

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The City Council is set to approve a $66 billion budget Wednesday, averting firehouse closings and teacher layoffs, but some of the funds are earmarked for re-opening a garbage transfer station in a residential Manhattan neighborhood, Jay Dow reports.

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Fight Over Garbage Transfer Stations

More Articles

From the Editor: Say No to an Incinerator

Trash and Burn

Gathering on Upper East Side to Oppose Garbage Station

Gonzalez Heralds Victory on Waste Management Fight

Bloomberg’s Environmental Plan Offers Lots of Parts, Little Controversy

City’s Talking Trash to Generate Energy

 

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