Council Member Ben Kallos Questions DSNY on Billion Dollar Boondoggle and Poor Policy of the Manhattan Marine Transfer Station

New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York, NY -- Council Member Ben Kallos joined the Committee on Solid Waste Management Preliminary Budget Hearing today, where he testified on the irresponsible budgeting and bad policy of the Upper Manhattan Marine Transfer Station.  A hotly contested exchange with outgoing Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty revealed the out-of-hand costs and poor environmentalism of the old waste disposal model -- particularly the Marine Transfer Station in Upper Manhattan, which would shift from waste disposal in New Jersey to burdening Manhattan's East Side and Staten Island.

“This waste transfer to landfill model is not worthy of the greatest city in the world. We can save money and protect residential neighborhoods if we reduce, reuse and recycle at the level of other major cities,” said Council Member Kallos.

Kallos inquired about the projected full cost of the Upper Manhattan Marine Transfer Station and the cost of exporting the waste; the costs and risks inherent in building on a FEMA Flood Zone Category AE site – the highest flood risk designation; and the need to move to recycling rates of other major cities. He also pointed out that Manhattan’s waste currently goes to New Jersey, not through the five boroughs, a policy that would shift as it would be barged from Upper Manhattan to Staten Island and finally to a processing site.

 Kallos’ remarks follow:
Good afternoon. I want to thank Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty for his 16 years of service as Commissioners and thank the committee, particularly Chair Antonio Reynoso, for allowing me to speak today.

Our new administration has already done so much, whether it is overturning vetoes on paid sick leave or working to end stop and frisk. We must continue to reverse poor policies from the previous administration.

I am here to ask this committee, the Speaker, the Mayor and the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation to help reverse yet another bad policy from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Please join me in opposing the construction of the Marine Transfer Station in Manhattan. 

Marine Transfer Stations must not waste money on a billion dollar boondoggle, must not continue the landfill model, must honor five borough equity, must not be built in a high risk flood zone, must not be built in a residential neighborhood, must not burden environmental justice and low-income communities, and must not harm our children.  We must instead adopt a modern approach that reduces costs, increases recycling and pledges to protect our residential communities and our most vulnerable.

Our new administration must engage in responsible budgeting.  This Marine Transfer Station started with a cost of $43 million in 2002, increased to $181 million in 2012, and is now estimated by Pledge 2 Protect, in its new report “Talking Trash,” to cost $1 billion over the next 20 years.  This is a billion that we could be spending on other budget priorities.

In fact, according to the Independent Budget Office report in 2012, our current waste management costs $90 per ton, while this Marine Transfer Station will increase costs to $238 per ton – more than $148 more per ton.
The Marine Transfer Station in question will send our trash to landfills, a model that was obsolete the day it was passed in 2006.  While New York boasts a 15% recycling rate and seeks to invest a billion into an 8 year old landfill plan, other cities like San Francisco are already recycling 75% of their waste. 

This Marine Transfer Station is cited to be built in a FEMA Flood Zone, with the highest flood risk designation of AE, a location that flooded during Sandy and will flood again.
This is the only Marine Transfer Station being built in a residential neighborhood.  This reflects poor urban planning by the previous administration that has flipped zoning upside-down, building commercially and residentially in our industrial neighborhoods, and placing industrial uses in residential neighborhoods.

This Marine Transfer Station will burden environmental justice communities, a community I represent, as trash from upper Manhattan makes its way through East Harlem and El Barrio.

This Marine Transfer Station is being built across the street from a NYCHA Development, that I also represent, Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Towers, with 2,278 low-income residents.

This administration cannot allow the construction of a Marine Transfer Station across the street from a NYCHA development.  We cannot continue the previous administration’s tactic of causing environmental harms to those who are least fortunate and least empowered to fight those harms.

Trash trucks will drive up to 720 tons per day of residential trash through residential neighborhoods past numerous schools and up a ramp that will bisect a park where 30,000 public schools children from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens swim, play and train to actually win medals at the Olympics.

We can do better. This is the greatest city in the world.  We can adopt a modern approach that reduces costs, increases recycling and protects our communities.  Do not move forward with this Marine Transfer Station.  Please join me and pledge to protect our budget, pledge to protect our neighborhoods, pledge to protect our low-income residents, pledge to protect our communities, pledge to protect our children and pledge to protect our future.


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