Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gracie Point Truck Nightmare

We have been commenting on the unnecessary construction of a marine transfer station on the residential east side. The Bloomberg plan was meant to skewer than council speaker Gifford Miller-and it did exactly that; in fact, that was the only thing that this symbolic, "fair share," initiative actually accomplished was to give the impression that the mayor was Mr. Environmental Justice. But the reality-with the failure of his SWMP-is less appealing.

Which brings us to a, "back to the drawing board," moment-but the one thing we know for certain is that the activation of an MTS at 91st Street would be a public health menace to both East Harlem and the East Side. It's a menace that is generated by the hundreds of garbage truck trips a day that the facility will generate; not to mention the stench of the transfer station, or the exhaust emitted from the queuing up of the trucks.

Here are some of the conditions in the provisional permit: "The operating permit sets maximum peak day limit for the facility at 1,860 tons per day, with an “upset’ limit of 4,290 tons and an emergency limit of 5,280 tons. Among the special conditions in the draft permit is are a prohibition of truck queuing on public streets (except under upset and emergency conditions), a limit of 17 trucks queued on the ramp, a requirement that a staff person be at the foot of the ramp when trucks are delivering waste, a requirement that video cameras accessible to NYSDEC on a real time basis be installed to monitor queuing compliance, a requirement that all waste be containerized within 24 hours of delivery and all containers removed within 48 hours, and limit for DSNY trucks of 0.1 grams of diesel particulate for pre-2007 trucks and 0.01 grams for trucks purchased in 2007 and after."

At a limit of 1,860 tons per day the neighborhood would be looking at between 155 and 266 trucks (times two for entering and leaving trips) or 186 trucks if 10 tons per truck. But all of this is clearly hypothetical, and the absence of an EIS is disturbing, since such an analysis would enable a better understanding of  not only the level of queuing during peak hours from 10-2; but also of the worst case scenario when capacity is doubled during emergencies.

One thing is for certain, the surrounding neighborhoods are going to be inundated by trucks and odor; and while there's a bit of poetic justice in the East Side getting to experience what the South Bronx and North Brooklyn are being forced to go through, wouldn't it make more sense to alleviate the burden on those communities rather than simply burdening another? That is why we are calling for a solid waste mulligan-or, back to the drawing board for you non-golfers.

The Bloomberg waste reduction strategy is in absolute disarray-and some of the city council proposals are simply-to put it kindly-flights of fancy. It's time to undertake a comprehensive food waste reduction plan, one that will-through the removal of wet waste contaminants with the use of disposers-allow for the enhancement of recycling in both the residential and commercial sector. The big remaining question: Who has the vision and the will to implement this essential change in strategic direction?