Locals and elected officials trashed a recently approved plan that will increase waste-filled train traffic, saying residents need refuge from the refuse.
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved a plan on June 11 that increases the amount of sanitation districts’ garbage that passes through the Review Avenue waste transfer station and ends up on trains that travel through Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth.
Currently, 958 tons of residential waste is delivered to the site, Waste Management spokesperson George McGrath said. The new plan will add an additional 200 tons from districts in Queens. The increase would not take place until after the facility is renovated, which has no timetable, he said.
For years, residents have complained about the noise and odor from the trains.
“You have people who can’t open their windows. You have people that I know of that have moved,” said Anthony Pedalino, who lives just down the street from the Middle Village tracks. “It’s just become a nightmare.”
Pedalino documents the daily disturbances recording the times the trains pass behind his house, with the times often occurring before 6 a.m.
Instead of alleviating the issues, homeowners are worried their troubles will only increase.
The DEC said the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) analysis found the project’s impact would not be considered significant under the criteria in the State Environmental Quality Review regulation.
“I think any amount of increased noise or odor pollution is too much to withstand for these residents,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “These residents don’t need more rails bothering them on a daily basis.”
The DSNY could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Area officials — including State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Mike Miller and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley — gathered with residents outside the waste transfer station to urge the DEC to reconsider the plan and instead barge the garbage.
Currently, the garbage travels from the Long Island City facility north to Selkirk, NY, crosses the Hudson River and travels back south through New Jersey to Waste Management’s landfill in West Virginia.
“Now I don’t think that makes much sense when you consider this facility is sitting on the Newtown Creek, a waterway,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
Holden and the elected officials want the trash barged to a New Jersey port, either Port Elizabeth or Port Newark, both of which have stops along the CSX rail line that carries the trash.
Any legislation to change the route would have to be federal because of the interstate travel.
While barging was considered, McGrath said, the narrowness of Newtown Creek at that point creates logistical problems.
“There is no place to store barges in that area, so you have to move them in and out several times a day,” McGrath said. “That in turn probably involves lifting the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge several times a day.”
“Our focus is working with customers in moving waste as efficiently as possible. In this location we believe rail is the way to go.”