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Queens Chronicle

Public Comment Sought On Con Ed’s Astoria Facility

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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:00 am

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public input on an application filed by Con Edison, renewing its permit to operate a hazardous waste storage facility in Astoria.

The site, located at 31-01 20th Ave., serves as a temporary waste storage and transfer station for materials generated on site and at other Con Ed facilities.

Materials handled there include oil, electrical equipment waste and the chemical compound PCB, according to DEC documents.

The materials come from a variety of sources and operations. These include general equipment maintenance of tankers and pumps, as well as procedures like consolidating liquid and solid waste and preparing equipment for storage.

According to Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert, a modification of the utility’s existing permit — currently under consideration for renewal by the DEC — would reduce the number of outgoing trucks from the facilty.

“The permit will allow Con Edison to consolidate trips to waste disposal facilities, reducing by 80 percent the truck traffic carrying hazardous materials through the neighborhood,” he said.

He added that materials would be stored safely at the facility in compliance with state environmental rules and regulations prior to shipment.

In a letter addressed to the DEC earlier this month, Astoria Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. expressed his opposition to renewing the utility’s permit.

“The last thing we need is to give permission to an irresponsible company to transport toxic waste to and from its facility,” he said, noting the company’s “poor track record” elsewhere.

Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, also expressed concern about overburdening a community as heavily industrialized as Astoria.

The community’s neighbors include several power plants, Steinway Industrial Park, Riker’s Island and LaGuardia Airport — “all of them adversely affecting the neighborhood,” Poveromo said.

“We are definitely saddened by the fact that the powers that be have found it necessary to use Western Queens as a dump site,” she added.

Poveromo is firmly against reissuing a permit to Con Ed, although she’s less than hopeful things will change.

Olert noted Con Ed held a public meeting on the matter over two years ago, and that several members of the community were in attendance.

“People who are criticizing this were briefed on this entire process,” he said.

The DEC is accepting written comments from the public until Jan. 14. All comments should be addressed to Harold Dickey, NYSDEC Region 2 Headquarters, 47-40 21st St., Long Island City, NY 11101. For more information, call (718) 482-4997.

Welcome to the discussion.