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Queens Chronicle

Rank rail cars still an area burden

Residents and railroad differ on odor allegedly coming from trains

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Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:47 am, Thu Oct 31, 2013.

There’s still no relief in sight regarding the pungent plight of furious residents near the Fresh Pond rail yard in Glendale, despite a recent legal victory.

One World Recycling’s permit application to triple the amount of waste production from 370 tons to 1,100 tons per day has been indefinitely delayed by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

An increase in production at One World’s Lindenhurst, LI production facility would have meant an increase in the alleged commingling of construction and demolition debris and commercial waste being carried by New York & Atlantic diesel trains through some Middle Village, Ridgewood and Glendale neighborhoods.

This commingling of the two types of waste creates noxious odors that some residents and civic groups have complained about for years, but they claim that the issues they have brought up have fallen on deaf ears. And the railroad denies it’s even happening.

Ed Cataldo, 57, of Middle Village, who lives a mere 35 feet away from the rail tracks on 70th Street, worries that the impacted communities will simply continue to be ignored.

“Why aren’t residential communities getting sound barriers or covers for the rail cars?” Cataldo said. “The problem is that they aren’t providing any provisions for anybody.”

Fellow Middle Village resident Anthony Pedalino, 66, agrees with Cataldo, believing that their situation is deteriorating each day.

“It’s all getting worse,” Pedalino said. “We are going to get screwed more and more. If you’re doing something, you should go to the people you are bothering and react to them.”

One World Recycling could not be reached for comment, but its waste production facility in Lindenhurst is permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation to contain the commingled material, according to DEC spokeswoman Lisa King.

“The facility permit does not restrict commingling of waste types,” King said in an email. “However, in May 2012, the permittee informed DEC that it would begin to commingle waste types, even though the permit did not restrict this activity. DEC merely acknowledged the activity, and no permit modification was necessary or issued at the time.”

That material is allegedly shipped by rail from the facility through area neighborhoods by NY&A trains, which are leased from the Long Island Rail Road. This commingled material is the source of the alleged smell that has caused some residents hardship, and state law does not require rail cars carrying waste to be covered. But NY&A spokesman John Casselini insists there is no commingling going on in its train cars whatsoever.

“That allegation is absolutely false,” Casselini said. “There has been a lot of C&D that has been moved this year because of Superstorm Sandy. The municipal solid waste is a completely different kind of waste. That is put in sealed containers and that is moved very differently. We do not accept commingled loads. The railroad does not log C&D and commercial waste together and we will never accept that.”

One of the most avid proponents against the alleged commingling of waste has been the group Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions. Chairwoman Mary Parisen is excited that One World’s new permit has been put on hold, heralding Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) for taking on the issue in Albany.

“After voicing concerns to the DEC, ... I’m encouraged that they will be delaying the process indefinitely,” Hevesi said. “While increasing waste transfer from road to rails still remains an admirable goal, it is of the utmost importance that increases on these rail lines are accompanied by measures to mitigate quality of life and environmental impacts.”

Parisen, while thanking Hevesi for his pleas to the DEC to delay One World’s application, also bemoans the obstacles placed in their way by other authorities.

“CURES is elated that the state is taking responsibility to look into this problem, that higher standards need to be met,” Parisen said. “Community Board 5 wrote to the railroad company but they said there really isn’t any unusual smells. They tried to pull the wool over our eyes.”

Casselini states that there haven’t been any complaints at all directed towards NY&A, and that the railroad takes pride in establishing a strong bond with the community

“We have been subjected to a lot of allegations that shipments are moving that actually aren’t,” he said. “We’ve even instituted a real time responsiveness program. If we get a complaint, we enlist a community partner to assist in the investigation to see if the allegations are true or false. We haven’t had a legitimate complaint of any kind since the program was put in place three years ago. We’ve worked very hard with this community to address any concerns.”

Nonetheless, Pedalino and Cataldo believe that the alleged actions taken by One World, NY&A and the DEC have adversely impacted their lives as well as the lives of their families and neighbors.

“My wife has lung cancer and we need a healthy environment here,” Cataldo said. “The bottom line is that no one had any foresight to see that we have a major health issue.”

“There was a woman who used to live here who had asthma. She couldn’t take it and she had to move out. I feel so bad for people like Ed Cataldo who live adjacent to the tracks,” Pedalino added. “I’m at a point where I’ll probably have to move out before all of this is resolved.”

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