North Brooklyn residents want Manhattanites to stop treating Williamsburg and Greenpoint like a dumping ground.
The two neighborhoods are the location of 19 out of the city’s 58 trash dumps, which is the highest concentration in the city, according to the New York Public Interest Group. The number of dumps in Manhattan? Zero.
This morning, elected officials and members of a group called Organization United for Trash Reduction & Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE) demanded that the city speed up its implementation of a Solid Waste Management Plan. Passed in 2006, the plan called for three Manhattan transfer stations (where garbage is taken before it’s shipped upstate, or elsewhere), all of which are behind schedule in construction.
“Williamsburg is now the celebrated, hip place to live. Residential space is increasing, adding and overcrowding the population here,” said David Dobosz, a co-founder of OUTRAGE. “People are all worried about the truck traffic.”
According to a study OUTRAGE conducted in 2009, 50 percent of trucks driving through major intersections in North Brooklyn are garbage trucks on their way to or from a dump. Approximately 80 trucks drive down Metropolitan Avenue within 90 minutes on a weekday.
“These facilities attract trucks from throughout the city,” Justin Wood, an environmental justice organizer with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, said at the conference, calling the disparity an “injustice.”
During the press conference, dozens on trucks whizzed down Metropolitan Avenue, and were loud enough that speakers standing a few feet away were drowned out by the noise.
The city council, Dobosz said, needs to “stop arguing about whether this neighborhood or that neighborhood should share the burden.”
Once Manhattan’s three transfer stations are built, it’s expected to reduce truck traffic by a few million miles each year because barges will be used to ship garbage out of the city.
The construction of the Manhattan stations have been staunchly opposed by residents in the area, particularly Upper East Side residents living near a proposed station on East 91st Street. A group calling itself Residents for Sane Trash Solutions has fought the station’s construction in court numerous times, and although they’ve lost each suit, it’s delayed construction.
Eric Bruzaitis, another OUTRAGE member, says the construction timeline of the marine transfer stations affects the rest of the Solid Waste Management Plan’s implementation. “It’s a domino effect,” he says.
City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who chairs the council’s sanitation committee, also attended the press conference, and said that he supports efforts to speed up the Manhattan transfer station’s construction, as well as to pass legislation capping the amount of residential and commercial waste processed in each borough.
“In Brooklyn, one thing we’re good at is that we talk trash,” Reynoso quipped. “It’s about time [de Blasio] starts talking trash, too.”