Residents who live near the Fresh Pond railroad yards are livid over a ruling last week by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that will greatly increase the amount of city trash that gets shipped through Maspeth, Glendale and Middle Village.
The DEC has given approval for Waste Management to increase the amount of garbage that it takes in at its transfer station at 38-22 Review Ave. in Long Island City.
That approval will increase the amount of garbage that the firm ships via CSX Railroad through Fresh Pond Junction on its way to Waste Management landfills in Virginia.
A press conference held Monday on Review Avenue was organized by Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions, or CURES, and elected officials.
“They take garbage on a tour of New York State,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, a longtime critic of the garbage trains. “They head up to a town near Albany and head back down on the Jersey side.”
Holden and others want Waste Management to barge the garbage across the harbor to Port Newark or Port Elizabeth in New Jersey, where it could be placed on CSX trains for transportation south.
Residents of the area long have complained about the noise from the rail yards at all hours of the night, and the odors that emanate from trash cars, particularly those that are left standing until they are transported.
“I live about 100 feet from the rail lines, but some people only live about 30 or 40 feet,” Anthony Pedalino of Middle Village said at the press conference. “They can’t even open their windows.”
The DEC, in a statement issued Monday, said its inspectors as well as those from the city’s Department of Sanitation evaluated all potential impacts. DEC personnel were at the rail yards on June 21.
“No odors or dust emissions were observed,” according to the statement. It said the rail containers are either sealed or covered. The statement said further that NYC sanitation inspectors concluded that “any incremental increase in noise and air quality impacts would not be considered significant” under state regulations.
State Sens. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) were highly critical of the state and the Bloomberg administration, as were Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodside) and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
Mayor Bloomberg’s press office did not respond to requests for comment on this story. But George McGrath, spokesman for Waste Management, said the approved plan is a city plan and has been reviewed and revised at many levels.
He said that while the plant would be increasing its allowable maximum daily capacity from 928 tons to 2,100, that is a peak number, and that normal daily averages should be only about 1,150 tons per day.
He also said the move will eliminate more than 50 diesel truck trips to and from the site per day, or more than 300 per week, with the aim of eliminating moving waste out of state by truck.
This was all part of a process that was adjusted to address concerns of local residents, McGrath said.
As for barging the waste, he said Waste Management did consider it, but ran into numerous logistical hurdles.
One of those, he said, would be the need to raise the Greenpoint Avenue drawbridge four to five times per day, along with the attendant traffic issues.
As for the trains moving through the Fresh Pond Junction, McGrath said they will be loaded in an enclosed building in Long Island City and that the cars will be sealed.
“They’ll have a metal covering,” McGrath said. “You wouldn’t be able to tell them from any other railroad cars going through there.”
In a related matter, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), who hopes to challenge Addabbo this fall in the 15th Senate District, criticized rhe senator for his role in thepress conference.
In a statement issued by his campaign, Ulrich called Monday’s press conference an insult to residents of Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale.
“Even as the DEC approved a plan that would bring tons of additional trash and debris right through the heart of Queens, Joe Addabbo was asleep at the switch. He was supposed to weigh in before the DEC approved the plan, but instead stood idly by as Waste Management lobbied state officials to expand the use of the corridor.”
Addabbo said the councilman should “get his facts straight.
“This is a new issue; not the old railroad issue that we have been working on for years,” Addabbo said.
“If he has a problem with me at the press conference, I guess he has a problem with the residents and business owners who were there who wanted that press conference to address their concerns. That wasn’t Joe Addabbo, candidate, at a press conference. It was Joe Addabbo, state senator, addressing people’s concerns.”