Testimony Submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”)

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July 24, 2015

Iver M. Anderson
NYSDEC Region 2 Headquarters
47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, NY 11101-5407

Re:       Marine Transfer Station, Article 19, Air State Facility Permit Application ID: 2-6204-00007/00013

Dear Mr. Anderson,

Please do not renew the Air State Facility Permit for the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station that was slated for construction in 2006 as air quality conditions have changed for the worse in the near decade that has passed since its initial approval and a renewal will cause further harm to the air quality in the local residential community as well as New York City and State as a whole.

The official environmental conservation policy for the State of New York and the mission for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) is to conserve, improve and protect the environment by preventing air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of New Yorkers.[1][2] The DEC is required by law to provide for the “prevention and abatement of all” air pollution, including hazardous particulates.[3] In fulfilling this mission and law the DEC has the power to encourage industrial, commercial, residential and community development “that has the best usage of land areas, maximizes environmental benefits and minimizes the effects of less desirable environmental conditions.” [4] Therefore, as the New York City Council Member for the Upper East Side, East Midtown, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem, I call upon the DEC to fulfill its mission and uphold its obligations under law by putting the health and safety of New Yorkers and our environment above politics and hereby request that the Article 19 Air State Facility permit for the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (“MTS”) not be renewed.

Waste Will Be Redirected from Industrial NJ to Residential NYC

Residential waste from Community District 5, 6, 8 and 11 which is currently all going to industrial areas in New Jersey will be redirected to the Marine Transfer Station at East 91st Street within one quarter mile of 22,056 residents, 6,755 residents of color, 1,059 children, 1,172 units of NYCHA, and bisecting Asphalt Green where 34,000 children play, and harming all four community districts through which garbage trucks will drive. Sanitation Commissioner Garcia further admitted that 100% of Manhattan’s residential waste currently goes to New Jersey.[5] The DEC must obey the law to provide for the “prevention and abatement of all” air pollution and provide for “the best usage of land areas, maximizes environmental benefits and minimizes the effects of less desirable environmental conditions” for New Yorkers by not renewing this permit so that residential waste can continue to go to industrial areas in New Jersey instead of residential neighborhoods in New York City and State.[6]

Exhaust from Hundreds of Residential Garbage Truck Trips Will Harm Air Quality

The East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (“MTS”) is capable of 24-hour continuously processing 5,280 tons per day, a three shift capacity of 4,290 tons per day. For residential waste, the average peak day will be 864 tons, requiring 75 to 129 trucks per day, each carrying a load of 6.6 to 11.5 tons and peak hour arrival rate of 28 vehicles likely spanning three to five hours of a truck every one or two minutes between 8am and 8pm every day. Once they arrive 19 trucks will cue on a ramp bisecting a children’s park, idling for up to 3 minutes at any given time. Containers would be loaded with waste from two or three garbage trucks for approximately 20 to 22 tons of waste, with each barge loaded with 48 containers or 960 tons of waste, requiring a minimum of one to as many as five barges per day.[7] The barges will be tugged from East 91st Street down the East River, with tugs releasing high levels of air pollution harming Queens and Brooklyn as they pass on their way to Staten Island where the barges will be docked at an intermodal facility in order to transfer containers to railcar. Empty containers will be loaded back on to the barge for a return trip passing Brooklyn and Queens again in order to deliver the empty containers.[8] The East River and surrounding boroughs would have anywhere between two and ten tug boats with garbage barges every day.  Last but not least rail cars would then bring containers full of waste to be transferred to trucks and hauled to landfills and waste to energy facilities.

Garbage collection trucks are rated as class VII heavy-duty vehicles using diesel with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 – 33,000 pounds with average in-use emissions rates in grams per mile are: 7.471 of nitrogen oxides, 0.177 of fine particulate matter under 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), and 0.192 of particulate matter under 10 microns in diameter (PM10).[9]

Residential garbage collection trucks at a rate of the between 75 and 129 trucks per day, would be driving almost entirely through residential neighborhoods in order to cue on a ramp, 19 at a time for up to 3 minutes, releasing thousands of pounds of air pollutants in certain cases, at the aforementioned rates, seriously harming air quality in a residential neighborhood. The DEC must protect the 22,056 residents living within one quarter mile of the MTS by not renewing this permit in order to these harms to air quality.

Exhaust from Hundreds of Commercial Trash Truck Trips Will Harm Air Quality

The Marine Transfer station is currently slated for 780 tons per day of commercial waste, between the hours of 8pm and 8am, where there are 2,183 tons per day of available capacity, for commercial collection vehicles delivering an average of 11 tons per truck, a peak hour of approximately 19 to 21 trucks, for a total average minimum of 71 commercial trucks per day, with available capacity for 199.[10]

Unlike DSNY residential waste trucks that have been retrofitted to eliminate almost all of the toxic compounds that exist in diesel exhaust, commercial waste trucks made before 2007 do not have the same filters that DSNY residential waste trucks have. Startlingly, 90% of the commercial waste truck fleet in New York City has not been retrofitted to filter out toxins in diesel exhaust.[11] Clearly, commercial waste trucks will contribute an even more significant amount of pollution into the air around the MTS.[12] Commercial waste trucks are the largest source of pollution in New York City’s solid waste system, making up about 93% of total PM2.5 emissions and 90% of NOx emissions from waste collections and transport into the atmosphere.

Although newly introduced EPA standards will require garbage trucks to reduce fuel consumption and gas emissions by 16% in the year 2027, this only applies to trucks starting with model years 2021-2027.[13] This is particularly troubling when, currently, 90% of the commercial waste truck fleet predates 2007, before these trucks could have been equipped with particulate filters. While New York City has required commercial waste trucks to meet federal emissions standards by 2020, the MTS is slated for opening in 2017.[14]

The DEC must meet its legal obligation of “prevention and abatement” of air pollution by not renewing this permit until 100% of the commercial waste truck fleet meets the federal emissions guidelines and should consider never renewing this permit for dumping by commercial waste vehicles that will harm air quality.

Tugs Will Harm Air Quality in All Five Boroughs

Tug boats generate air pollution each and every hour they operate at a rate of 44.1 PM2.5, 30.9 NOx/10, and 20.8 CO2/10000.[15] Tugs emit 8 times more particulate matter and 3.6 times more NOx than diesel fuel trucks. The contrast between tugs and diesel trucks is stark considering that diesel fuel trucks can be equipped with highly advanced engine and emission control equipment that can also reduce the amount of fuel used by the trucks. This technology does not yet exist, however, to retrofit tug engines.[16] The MTS will require barges loaded with 48 containers or 960 tons of waste to be tugged by tug boats from East 91st Street to Staten Island, passing Queens and Brooklyn, releasing air pollution along the way, then returning back with empty containers at least once and as many as five times days, passing and polluting each neighborhood up to ten times. This is in place of simply picking up waste in Manahattan Community District 5, 6, 8 and 11 and driving directly to industrial areas in New Jersey, without impacting any other borough. The DEC must not renew this permit in order stop unnecessary air pollution generated by tugs and protect neighborhoods along the waterfront in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

Exhaust from the Marine Transfer Station Will Harm Air Quality

The Marine Transfer Station will ventilate contaminated air sprayed with water and odor controls into the surrounding community.[17] In addition to air pollutants release by garbage trucks dumping trash in the facility and tugs tugging barges full of trash from the facility, there will also be air pollutants released by on-site mobile equipment including wheel loaders, tamping crane, skid-steer loaders mini-vacuum sweeper, bucker lift, scissor lift, large forklift, and a medium forklift.[18] Exhaust from diesel trucks have contributed to poor air quality, high ozone levels, and smog, in New York City for decades. Notably, in 2012, the World Health Organization classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic, finally recognizing the unhealthy contribution that exhaust has made to air quality.[19] The DEC must not renew the permit in order to protect air quality from diesel exhaust from equipment operating in the MTS that will be ventilated directly into the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Preserving Zoning’s Distinction between Residential and Manufacturing Uses

Finally, granting these permits would flagrantly ignore the intent behind zoning laws that are designed to protect residential communities, especially those with children and sensitive populations, safe from the hazards of a MTS. Moreover, every MTS in the city is located in area zoned for manufacturing, except for the MTS, which is within a half mile of 11 day care centers and 16 schools. Additionally, this MTS impacts more people, schools, and public parks than many other MTS even taking as a group, including a large number of people, especially children, who visit the area to use Asphalt Green as well as the limited open park and play space. The impact of granting the permit for this MTS is therefore unprecedented and highly risky to people who rely on safe schools and public parks in the neighborhoods surrounding the MTS.[20] Furthermore, existing law bars private transfer stations from being within 400 feet of a residential district, public park, school, and hospital. But with commercial waste coming into the MTS twelve hours a day, and contributing greatly to the pollution in the vicinity of the MTS, the MTS will be operating as a de facto private MTS for at least half of the day. It’s unfair to the residents around the MTS to experiment with their health, especially when asthma rates are higher than the average in the city, and air quality is low .[21]

The DEC must obey the law to provide for the “prevention and abatement of all” air pollution[22] and provide for “the best usage of land areas, maximizes environmental benefits and minimizes the effects of less desirable environmental conditions” [23] for New Yorkers by not renewing this permit so that waste can continue to go to industrial areas in instead of to Residential neighborhoods in New York City.

Air Quality Has Stagnated or Gotten Worse In Neighborhood Since Initial Approval, While Air Quality Has Improved Citywide

Despite major improvements citywide regarding air quality, statistics show that for certain metrics, air quality has worsened or remained the same in East Harlem and the Upper East Side. For example, in East Harlem, asthma emergency department visits attributable to ozone O3 exposure for children under 18 has increased from 2005 to 2011.[24] According to the American Lung Association, a major source of illness from ozone exposure is gases coming from vehicles and smokestacks.[25] Outdoor air pollutants, including both NO2 and PM2.5 have essentially remained at the same levels from 2009 until 2013 at rates higher than the average for Manhattan as well as the city overall. Perhaps most tellingly, even in some metrics where the neighborhoods surrounding the MTS fare better than the rest of the city, health conditions are getting worse. Specifically, asthma hospitalizations on the Upper East Side attributable to O3 exposures for children under 18 are generally lower than that of the rest of the city or Manhattan, but have increased significantly between 2005 and 2011.[26] Notably, despite citywide improvements in air quality, especially since 2008-2009, the Upper East Side and East Harlem have remained hot spots for SO2 and Ni concentrations.[27] SO2 exposure can lead to an array of negative health effects including bronchoconstriction and symptomatic asthma, particularly in asthmatics and the elderly. In fact, adverse respiratory symptoms can be felt within just five minutes of exposure to high amounts of SO2.[28] Heavy Ni concentrations have been linked to cancerous and non-cancerous respiratory illnesses, contact dermatitis, lung infections, and other adverse health effects.[29] Renewing this permit would add insult to injury, by making air quality worse in one of the few remaining SO2 hotspots in the City, as such the DEC must not renew this permit until air quality in the area has no more hotspots and sees similar improvements to those citywide.

High Children’s Asthma Rates and Poor Health Will Only Increase If Permit Is Renewed

Among those most likely to be adversely affected by the MTS are residents of East Harlem living three blocks away, who experience disproportionately high rates of asthma hospitalizations and emergency room visits in children and young adults, health events such as asthma attributable to fine particulate matter and ozone in the air. For example, asthma hospitalizations for East Harlem children between ages 0 and 4 is nearly double the rate of the rest of New York City, and nearly three times the rate of the rest of Manhattan. Further, asthma emergency room visits attributable to exposure to PM2.5 fine particulates in the air is similarly double the rate of the rest of Manhattan, and nearly two-thirds higher than that of the rest of the New York City.[30] The Division of Toxicology at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) list Nitrogen Oxides as a hazardous substance which can cause irritation, burns and damage to respiratory airways.[31] Making matters worse, exposure to harmful diesel exhaust in the air from trucks leaving or entering the MTS will result in even greater potential risk of health impacts, especially for the thousands of children that attend the 11 day care centers and 16 schools within a half mile of the MTS site.[32] Renewing this permit will allow the MTS begin operations will increase the fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, and diesel, that will increase children’s asthma rates in East Harlem. The DEC must not renew this permit in order to protect air quality from harms that will lead to an increase in damage to respiratory airways and asthma in children.

Radioactive Waste Will Harm Environment and Air Quality

The Marine Transfer Station is expected to receive radioactive waste and will be equipped with two stationary radiation detection systems to monitor for unacceptable levels of radioactive materials.[33] This is especially alarming because if heated, or if any waste surrounding the radioactive waste catches fire, radioactive waste could put increased amounts of radon in the air, worsening air quality, and putting surrounding communities at higher risk of lung cancer and other ailments.[34] In fact, radon exposure is the most common cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Even incremental increases to radon can increase the risk of lung cancer and other related ailments, [35] especially if a community is already exposed to higher amounts of radon, which is common in areas with high levels of diesel exhaust or other fossil fuel burning machinery.[36]

Conclusion

I hereby request that the DEC not to renew the Air State Facility Permit for the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station in order to meet with your mission, obligations under law, to improve and protect the environment by preventing air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of New Yorkers, and to prevent and abate all air pollution, including hazardous particulates. The MTS will redirect waste and air pollution from out of state in order to release harmful exhaust from residential trash trucks, commercial trash trucks, tugs, equipment operating within MTS, harming air quality in a neighborhood with a hotspot, among the worst air quality in the city, where children already have high asthma rates. The DEC has a duty to put our environment and our residents over politics by not renewing this permit.


[1] ECL § 1-0101 Declaration of Policy

[2] "DEC's Mission." About DEC. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, n.d. available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/24.html20  July 2015.

[3] ECL § 3-0301. General functions, powers and duties of the department and the commissioner.

[4] Id.

[5] Transcript of the Minutes of the Committee on Finance Jointly with the Committee on Transportation and the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, N.Y.C. Council, 262-266 (2014) (testimony of Department of Sanitation Commission Kathryn Garcia). Print.

[6] ECL § 3-0301. General functions, powers and duties of the department and the commissioner.

[7] “East 91st Street MTS Engineering Report,” Section 2.0 General Operating Plan: East 91st Street MTS Facility, Final Part 360 Permit Application, January 2007.

[8] Id.which is ronic Mailot renewing this permit.asthma rates. The DEC has a duty to protect our environment and our residents from po

[9] Office of Transportation and Air Quality, “Emission Facts: Average In-Use Emissions from Heavy-Duty Trucks,” United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA420-F-08-027, October 2008 available at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/420f08027.pdf

[10] “East 91st Street MTS Engineering Report,” Section 2.0 General Operating Plan: East 91st Street MTS Facility, Final Part 360 Permit Application, January 2007.

[11] Cost and Environmental Issues At the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station: Implications for The Solid Waste Management Plan and New York City. Tech. Pledge2Protect - Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, 31 Jan. 2014. July 2015. 11. <http://pledge2protectnyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GNA-Technical-Report.pdf>

[12]East 125th Street Development New York City Economic Development Corporation. Solid Waste and Sanitation Services. N.d. New York, New York. 3.13-1. Available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/oec/downloads/pdf/dme_projects/07DME025M/FEIS/07... July 2015.

[13] EPA and NHTSA Propose Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for  Medium- and Heavy-Duty Trucks: By the Numbers. 2-3. June 2015 available at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f15903.pdf. July 2015.

[14] Hu, Winnie. "New York Looks to Cut Emissions by Private Trash Haulers." The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Nov. 2013 available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/12/nyregion/new-york-looks-to-cut-emissio.... 22 July 2015.

[15] Varalakshmi Jayaram, “Evaluating Emission Benefits of a Hybrid Tug Boat,” California Air Resources Board, October 2010 available at http://www.arb.ca.gov/ports/marinevess/harborcraft/documents/hybridrepor...

[16] Cost and Environmental Issues At the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station: Implications for The Solid Waste Management Plan and New York City. Tech. Pledge2Protect - Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. July 2015. 8-10 <http://pledge2protectnyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GNA-Technical-Report.pdf>

[17] “East 91st Street MTS Engineering Report,” Section 2.0 General Operating Plan: East 91st Street MTS Facility, Final Part 360 Permit Application, January 2007.

[18] “East 91st Street MTS Engineering Report,” Section 2.0 General Operating Plan: East 91st Street MTS Facility, Final Part 360 Permit Application, January 2007.

[19] Talking Trash: A Modern Approach That Protects Communities, Increases Recycling And Reduces Costs. Publication. Pledge 2 Protect, n.d. Web. July 2015. <http://pledge2protectnyc.org/P2P_report-talking_trash.pdf>.

[20] Gladstein, Neandross & Associates. Addressing Community Concerns at the East 91st Street MTS. 9 May 2014. New GNA Analysis for the Asphalt Green/Pledge 2 Protect Bus Tour.

[21]Cost and Environmental Issues At the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station: Implications for The Solid Waste Management Plan and New York City. Tech. Pledge2Protect - Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, 25.  31 Jan. 2014 available at <http://pledge2protectnyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GNA-Technical-Report.pdf>.  July 2015.

[22] ECL § 3-0301. General functions, powers and duties of the department and the commissioner.

[23] Id.

[24] "Outdoor Air and Health in East Harlem." New York City Environment & Health Data Portal. Available at http://a816-dohbesp.nyc.gov/IndicatorPublic/NewQuickView.aspx. 20 July 2015.

[25] "Ozone Pollution - State of the Air 2014." State of the Air 2014. American Lung Association, 2014 available at http://www.lung.org/press-room/press-releases/healthy-air/SOTA-2014-Nati.... 22 July 2015.

[26] “Outdoor Air and Health on the Upper East Side.” New York City Environment & Health Data Portal. Available at http://a816-dohbesp.nyc.gov/IndicatorPublic/NewQuickView.aspx. 20 July 2015.

[27] Armstrong, Lindsay. "Upper East Side Air Quality Worse Than South Bronx, Stats Show." DNAinfo New York, 26 June 2014 available at http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140626/upper-east-side/upper-east-side... July 2015.

[28] "Sulfur Dioxide Health." Six Common Pollutants. Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 2015 available at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/sulfurdioxide/. July 2015.

[29] U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Centers for Disease Control. Toxic Substances Portal: Public Health Statement for Nickel. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Aug. 2005 available at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/PHS/PHS.asp?id=243&tid=44.July 2015.

[30] "Asthma and the Environment (East Harlem)." New York City Environment & Health Data Portal. Available at http://a816-dohbesp.nyc.gov/IndicatorPublic/NewQuickView.aspx. 20 July 2015.

[31] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), “The Division of Toxicology  ToxFAQS: NITROGEN OXIDES,” Centers for Disease Control (CDC), April 2002 available at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts175.pdf

[32] Cost and Environmental Issues At the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station: Implications for The Solid Waste Management Plan and New York City. Tech. Pledge2Protect - Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. July 2015. 5-6. <http://pledge2protectnyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GNA-Technical-Report.pdf>

[33] “East 91st Street MTS Engineering Report,” Section 2.0 General Operating Plan: East 91st Street MTS Facility, Final Part 360 Permit Application, January 2007.

[34] Emshwiller, John R. "Radioactive Waste in St. Louis at Risk From Smoldering Trash." U.S. The Wall Street Journal, 24 July 2014. Web. July 2015. <http://www.wsj.com/articles/radioactive-waste-in-st-louis-at-risk-from-smoldering-trash-1406219385>.

[35] "Radon Health Risks." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 16 Jan. 2015. Web. July 2015. <http://www.epa.gov/radon/healthrisks.html#head>.

[36] "Environmental Health and Medicine Education." Radon Toxicity Case Study: Who Is at Risk of Radon Exposure? Centers for Disease Control, 1 June 2010. Web. July 2015. <http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=8&po=7>.

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