New Import: More Trash

Temp Permit Adds L.I. Garbage Trains To Qns.

More garbage than usual is now being imported into Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) authorized last week a “short-term operation” allowing wrapped solid waste bales to be shipped by rail from waste facilities in eastern Long Island to reduce a garbage backlog.

“Due to a shortage of available trucking resources, Long Island transfer stations have been unable to keep up with the volume of garbage during this peak season for waste generation,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens explained in a press release last Thursday, July 17. “To reduce the risk that garbage would go uncollected from residents and businesses, DEC issued a temporary emergency authorization.”

Martens stated the agency is also working “cooperatively with the solid waste industry and local governments to find a solution to remove solid waste from eastern Long Island as expeditiously as possible.”

The 30-day authorization, Martens noted, came with a set of “operational controls … designed to reduce the potential for any impacts to occur” and provide proper oversight of the operation from start to finish.

Waste management facilities in Suffolk County are required to wrap bales of compacted solid waste and place them in rail cars that are fitted with solid lids “to prevent odor impacts.” No loose waste will be permitted in the cars.

Once the rail cars are fully loaded, they are shipped west to the Fresh Pond Railyard in Glendale while en route to an out-of-state waste disposal facility. The DEC placed environmental monitors at the railyard in order to ensure proper operation and assess potential negative impacts.

Reportedly, these shipments are taking place six days a week, with no activity on Sundays.

Fresh Pond Railyard is the only freight rail hub in Queens; all shipments to and from Long Island pass through the yard via the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Montauk branch extension-now operated by New York and Atlantic Railway exclusively for freight purposes-and the CSX rail line, which connects to the Hell Gate Bridge and points west.

As previously reported, Glendale and Middle Village residents criticized freight rail operators for causing many quality-of-life problems related to the shipment of solid waste. Open container cars filled with construction and demolition debris were uncovered or loosely restrained, leading to waste or dust flying out of the cars upon movement.

At other times, residents complained putrescible solid waste was mixed in with the debris, exposing residents to foul odors while the cars idle on the tracks.

In an email sent to the Times Newsweekly, Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES), based in Glendale, stated the DEC “raised the bar for environmentally responsible solid waste-by-rail” and “has demonstrated responsibility in mandating sealed lids, environmental monitors and other controls for emergency rail shipments.”

CURES, however, wants Long Island governments to “do their fair share” long term “instead of exporting solid waste and transportation burdens” to Queens. The organization also called upon the DEC to “mandate hard, sealed lids for rail cars of residual garbage, which also brings dust, odors and vectors into NYC neighborhoods.”

The matter was previously discussed on July 1 with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz at her inaugural freight rail task force meeting.