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Coalition fights garbage dump in New York

A coalition of residents, organizations and businesses have formed Pledge 2 Protect (P2P), an organization dedicated to stopping the construction of the proposed East 91st Street marine transfer station (MTS). Among other initiatives, the organization will mobilize residents to support only politicians who oppose the new transfer station.

P2P also released two new reports that demonstrate the inappropriateness of locating an MTS in such a dense and diverse residential neighborhood, due to the potential negative health impacts.

The first report, “Sharing the Garbage Load?” by BFJ Planning examined the proposed MTS against the other six proposed locations and found that more than three times both the total number of residents and children live within a quarter mile of the East 91st Street location compared to the next most populated MTS location.

The BFJ Planning report also found that the East 91st Street location has:

  • Sixty-two percent more minority residents than at the other sites;
  • More than 1,100 public housing units – only 1 other location has any public housing units, and that site’s total is 33;
  • And, twice the amount of parks, fitness/recreational areas and bike/pedestrian paths than any other site.

“Contrary to the City’s statement that there will be no impact on the neighborhood, we have solid evidence of the health and safety dangers this garbage facility will impose on New Yorkers,” said Pledge 2 Protect president Kelly Nimmo-Guenther. “We launched the Pledge 2 Protect Coalition to mobilize the thousands who strongly oppose a garbage dump in any densely populated residential community. New York City’s next mayor and other elected officials need to realize that the selection of the East 91st Street site was a mistake that must be rectified.”

A second report, commissioned by Residents for Sane Trash Solutions, entitled “Air Pollution Impacts on Children from a Waste Transfer Station” found that emissions from diesel emitting garbage trucks, many of them idling mere feet from playing children, will directly affect the lung development of children in the direct vicinity. The garbage trucks and fumes from the MTS will result in an eight percent increase in respiratory related child hospitalizations.

Due to the proximity of children to the trucks as they enter the MTS, the nature of the diesel emissions, the stage of lung development in young children and the low average height of children, Health Report authors found “the operation of this facility will impose health and social costs upon already vulnerable populations in the surrounding neighborhood. Asphalt Green is a uniquely poor site for a waste transfer station because the truck ramps to the station are located in the middle of a children’s recreation area.”

The report also noted that “approximately 31,000 children participated in programs at Asphalt Green during the 2011-2012 school year. Countless others, including toddlers and infants, use the DeKovats playground that lies within the zone of the highest particulate concentrates. Moreover, the March 2012 update of the Economic Impact Survey recognizes that 11 day care centers and 16 schools are situated within the primary and secondary study areas that will be affected by the proposed MTS.”

Additionally the report noted that 18 percent of the school-aged children in East Harlem suffer from asthma and 2,000 children from East Harlem and Harlem participate in programs at Asphalt Green. The report follows announcements from the World Health Organization that diesel exhaust is a carcinogen, new emissions standards from the Environmental Protection Agency, which the East 91st Street MTS would exceed, and a declaration by NYC’s Commissioner of Health that vehicular emissions are harmful.

In the coming months, the P2P Coalition will be holding a Pledge 2 Protect community education event, engaging in door-to-door pledge signing drives, communicating to residents the positions politicians have taken on the MTS, releasing reports on the health effects and environmental impact of the proposed dump and engaging in social media campaigns.

Coalition members supporting this issue include Asphalt Green, P.L.U.S., Residents for Sane Trash Solutions, Inc., Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center Inc., East 79th St. Neighborhood Association, The Chapin School, East Side Middle School PTA, East 93rd Street Block Association, NYC Elite, Gracie Point Community Council, local businesses and thousands of New Yorkers.