Colton mobilizes residents to fight waste transfer station

Assemblymember Bill Colton gave a rousing speech to residents, asking for their support to fight the proposed Southwest Brooklyn Waste Transfer Station, at the latest meeting of the Bensonhurst West End Community Council on September 27, held at the Harway Terrace Community Room.

Colton said that neighbors have to band together to stop the installation of the station, just like they did to bring the B64 back to Coney Island.

“We thought the B64 was hopeless and that’s very similar to this situation. History repeats itself and we have to do the leg work. There is no magic solution,” Colton explained. “We have to put the principles of democracy into work and work together to solve [problems].”

The proposed waste transfer station is at the same site as the old Southwest Brooklyn Incinerator, which was built in 1956 and shut down in 1989. Colton contends that 20 percent of the burned garbage still remains in Gravesend Bay.

“This is 15 years of toxic stuff,” he said, adding that if and when the bay is dredged to make room for barges to go in and out of the station as it would need to be to make the WTS operable, this “black mayo” will come up to the surface.

“Right around the bend is Coney Island, Brighton Beach and the Sheepshead Bay fishing industry,” Colton said. “All of these good uses of the water will be endangered.”

In addition, Colton has said that the WTS has the potential to impact all of southwest Brooklyn negatively. “We are going to have garbage trucks rumbling through the streets, day and night, creating congestion and problems in terms of quality-of-life. It will reduce the value of real estate in the area.”

Colton did acknowledge that the city does have problem with garbage. He said that there are other waste transfer stations being constructed in the Upper East Side and on Hamilton Avenue near Red Hook. One proposed location near La Guardia Airport was denied because it would attract birds which could interfere with air traffic.

The Southwest Brooklyn location was the last one approved in 2009 by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), but Colton filed an Article 78 challenge in June to overturn the court’s decision. Currently he is preparing legal arguments for the next hearing, scheduled for December 12.

The Department of Sanitation (DOS) previously told this paper that it is moving full speed ahead with the Gravesend Bay WTS. Keith Mellis, deputy chief of the agency, explained, DSNY is moving forward with plans to construct this state of the art containerized marine transfer station that will allow for waste from south Brooklyn to be shipped by barge to rail centers where it will be moved to landfills out of state, he said. In doing so, fewer trucks will be moving that waste on roadways which will cut down on traffic, road wear and pollution.

Mellis added that the marine transfer station was part of the mayor’s solid Waste Management Plan which was overwhelmingly approved by the City Council and the state DEC. We are moving forward to bring this modern facility online, he added.

That’s exactly what Colton said he is trying to stop. “I will be mobilizing the community and signing letters…doing all the things we did with the B64,” Colton said. “We are setting up a model of democracy. We, as the people, organize and mobilize so our grievances will get a fair hearing. This is an important issue that affects our children, family and businesses, and we will continue the fight that may go on for years.

“It’s too important to allow just go by quietly,” the Assemblymember went on. “I cannot do it without your help or support.”

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