The city is moving forward with work on a controversial waste transfer station in Gravesend, and opponents may ask a judge to block construction.
“This is outrageous,” said Assemblyman William Colton (D–Bensonhurst), who sued to block the station in 2012. The opponents lost the case, but filed an appeal in November. Colton said the city shouldn’t start work on the project while the appeal is pending.
“They’re proceeding to do construction while an appeal has been filed, and by doing that they’re showing a callous disregard of taxpayer money. Our lawyers are meeting and we are looking at seeking an injunction.”
The Department of Design and Construction issued a letter to elected officials on Dec. 2, which state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) made public, that states the city is beginning construction of the transfer station at 400 Bay 41st St. this month.
Garbage trucks dump trash at the stations, and workers put the refuse onto barges to ship it outside the city.
Residents and elected representatives complain the site will lead to increased truck traffic and air pollution around the station.
A garbage incinerator operated on the site from the 1950s to the 1990s, and locals fear that dredging Gravesend Bay to accommodate trash barges will stir up a host of toxic chemicals.
A 2013 soil study found traces of cancer-causing pesticide Chlordane and insecticide Mirex, both banned by the Environmental Protection Agency, an area councilman said.
“These are some of the worst toxins known to mankind,” said Councliman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island).
A city spokeswoman said the level of toxic chemicals is consistent with the rest of New York Harbor.
“Petitioners’ contentions that facility dredging may lead to higher levels of contamination in fish consumed are merely speculative, and their offer of proof in their petition for party status is inadequate,” a Department of Environmental Conservation report says.
Over three to four months, workers will dredge up enough sediment to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, according to the design commission’s letter.
The new waste transfer station is required by the city’s 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan.
The trash destined for the Gravesend depot currently travels nearly six miles to a transfer facility on Court Street in Red Hook. Residents in the northern half of the borough — where there are nearly a dozen waste transfer stations — contend they’ve been shouldering southern Brooklyn’s garbage burden for too long.
“The communities in Greenpoint and Williamsburg need the Solid Waste Management Plan implemented now,” said Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D–Williamsburg) back in May. “Our communities bear an unfair burden of trash in New York City and action needs to be taken to reduce this burden.”
But Treyger said his constituents took the borough’s trash for three decades, and are still suffering with health problems linked to the incinerator.
“People think that we forgot the history here — we were burning a lot of people’s garbage and we’re still paying the price for that,” he said.
Colton said the city needs to focus on improving recycling rather than cramming an unwanted garbage facility down residents’ throats.
“I don’t think it is at all progressive or forward-thinking to say, when you have injustice, you should spread it equally,” Colton said. “You should eliminate the injustice. The city is just making a wider area of misery.”