Garbage-train plan stinks: Hevesi

Garbage-train plan stinks: Hevesi
Photo courtesy Bob Holden
By Steve Mosco

Public outcry over idling garbage trains in Middle Village prompted state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) to sound off.

The assemblyman from Queens’ 28th District drafted a letter to the state Department of Environmental Conservation asking for a review of Waste Management of New York’s application to expand a waste transfer station on Review Avenue in Maspeth.

“The proposed 119 percent increase in capacity of shipments of putrescible solid waste through neighborhoods I represent without any consideration of adverse effects on residential communities en route to the transfer station in the completed application for permitting is unacceptable,” Hevesi said in his letter to the DEC. “I ask that this application be held until a full review of the environmental, health and quality of life problems resulting from diesel emissions, aging rail technology and infrastructure and noxious odors of the shipments themselves is completed.”

According to Hevesi, the expansion of the Review Avenue waste transfer station, near the entrance to the Kosciuszko Bridge, would bring more garbage through Middle Village neighborhoods already inundated with the smell and noise generated by idling garbage trains.

Anthony Pedalino, a resident of Middle Village on 69th Street, said the quality of life in the neighborhood continues to plummet with the rise of garbage traffic.

“This facility will enable the city to transport more districts’ industrial garbage through Glendale and Middle Village, as if we don’t have enough pollution and noise,” he said. “The tracks are literally feet behind homes and schools.”

Last week, Pedalino and a number of other residents joined state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) in calling for rail companies to cease performing yard activities on tracks in residential neighborhoods.

Pedalino believes the noise and odor problems will increase exponentially if the Review Avenue station expands.

“If you think it’s bad now, wait until they increase the volume,” he said. “This can and will be the death of this community.”

A Waste Management representative said the goal of increasing shipment via rail is to reduce truck traffic on the roads and provide a more environmentally sound option of transferring waste. The representative also said “the concerns raised by elected officials and others in recent days have been fully aired and extensively addressed over the course of a permitting process that has been under way for more than three years.”

While Hevesi agrees that fewer garbage trucks would be good for the area, he wants to move toward that goal in a manner that does not adversely affect residents.

In order to achieve a solution, Hevesi is calling for public input into the process and a complete review of Waste Management’s application process.

“The rail lines that lead into this facility pass through several residential neighborhoods in Queens, a factor that was not considered or heavily weighed in this application process,” he said. “I urge the DEC to add a Community Benefits Agreement that would allow for a review of adverse affects of expansion proposals on local communities.”

A representative for the DEC declined to comment, saying the department is currently reviewing Hevesi’s letter and Waste Management’s application.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.