Canarsie: sick of medical waste station proposal

The Brooklyn Paper
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With a critical public hearing scheduled to take place next week, Canarsie residents are pushing forward with efforts to keep a medical waste transfer station out of their neighborhood.

Local groups are attacking the matter on a variety of fronts. They are widely distributing flyers to their neighbors who might not know about the proposal, by hand and in the mail, as the days count down to the January 13th hearing, scheduled by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which will kick off at 7 p.m. in the former Remsen Heights Jewish Center building, 8700 Avenue K.

Some of the groups are also petitioning to be granted amicus status, which would allow them to testify at a second, pre-adjudicatory hearing scheduled by DEC for January 27th. Among those applying for amicus status are the South Canarsie Civic Association (SCCA), the Avenue L Merchants Association, and the East 98th Street Block Association.

“We’re hoping we can go under that,” noted Mary Anne Sallustro, president of SCCA.

“We are going to stand up for the area,” added Mercedes Narcisse, the president of the merchant group. “It’s not right for Canarsie, and we are going to take part in everything we can take part in.”

The medical waste transfer station was proposed by CMW Industries for 100-02 Farragut Road, which the company currently uses for its ambulette service. As residents have learned of the proposal, which cannot go forward without a permit from DEC, opposition has been strong and growing. “It’s been like a fire,” Sallustro noted.

“We are united to the teeth, and advancing,” agreed the Reverend Peter Allen, treasurer of the East 98th Street Block Association.

Concern revolves around two issues -- the exact composition of the medical waste, and traffic that might be substantially increased by the facility’s presence. Residents forced the public hearing by submitting over 1,800 letters, plus petitions containing hundreds of signatures, last autumn, after DEC issued a notice that the application to operate the facility was complete. The notice included wording indicating that the project, “will not have a significant impact on the environment,” a pronouncement that those organizing the opposition to the plan dispute fervently.

As much as 15 tons of regulated medical waste could be sent to the facility each day, according to DEC.

This would be the first such facility in Brooklyn. Currently, CMW transports the medical waste it collects to a facility in the Bronx.

If the proposal is approved, medical waste brought to the property would be stored inside a 40-foot tractor-trailer container, which would be taken away when filled. “The on-site storage of hazardous waste is limited to less than ten days,” according to the notice issued by DEC. The facility would be open for operation, according to the DEC notice, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The size of the crowd attending the public hearing is important, Sallustro stressed. “I hope people show up,” she told this paper.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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