Massive Waste of Taxpayer Money in the City’s Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station Debacle


Construction continues on the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station, even though it cannot open, because landfills are unwilling to accept New York City’s trash.

A $3.3 billion plan to ship the City’s containerized trash from marine transfer stations, including the Bensonhurst facility, to a landfill in the scenic Finger Lakes region recently collapsed. This is the second time that a City deal to ship the containerized waste fell apart. A previous plan to ship the trash to a landfill in New Jersey didn’t work out either.
Assemblymember William Colton, (47th AD) who has led the fight against the transfer station stated, “From the very beginning, we knew that this plan was a boondoggle and an outrageous waste of taxpayer money. It also threatens the health and safety of our community and nearby communities, because toxic sediments have been dispersed during shoddy dredging operations”. He added that, “We warned the City that these marine transfer stations should not be constructed because there would be a huge problem finding a suitable landfill. They refused to listen. Meanwhile, they are moving forward with construction of the Southwest facility while the Hamilton Avenue transfer station sits unused. And as recycling rates continue to improve, the Southwest facility may even be obsolete before construction is ever completed. “
Another marine transfer station at Hamilton Avenue was completed over a year ago and has never opened, because there are no facilities willing to accept the trash.

The cost of transporting the trash will probably increase significantly now, since it will have to be transported over a greater distance.

Assemblymember Colton and District Leaders Nancy Tong and Charles Ragusa, are preparing for a hearing in Appellate Court on June 9, in an attempt to stop construction of the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station.

In 2006, after the closure of the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, the City developed a Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). Under the SWMP, municipal trash was to be containerized and shipped by
barge to a receiving landfill. All boroughs were to have a single marine transfer station (MTS), except Brooklyn, which was to have two – one at Hamilton Avenue in northern Brooklyn and one in Bensonhurst on the shore of Gravesend Bay.
From the beginning, it was obvious that the Bensonhurst location, the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station (Southwest) was a poor choice. It had been the site of an unpermitted municipal incinerator that was finally closed as a result of a lawsuit. Underwater sediments that were contaminated from the incinerator’s activities were naturally covered with clean sand and would be disturbed when dredging took place. Gravesend Bay, adjacent to the site, was recognized for providing habitat for numerous species of fish. A large park is next to the site and there were many other problems with this location.

An earlier lawsuit involving the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) resulted in a mixed decision. Consequently, the DEC permit for construction and operation of the facility included numerous Special Conditions. As construction began, there were several violations of the Special Conditions and Assemblymember Colton, along with Congressman Daniel Donovan, called in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA found several violations. Most disturbing was that the underwater dredging operation for this facility resulted in the dispersal of contaminated toxins.

Subsequently, the earlier legal decision was appealed and after several years, the case will finally be heard in Appellate Court on June 9, 2016.

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