Assembly Member Seawright’s Testimony Against the Waste Transfer Station

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July 23, 2015

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

Re: DEC Permit Number: 2-6204-00007/00016

Dear Mr. Anderson,

Thank you for commencing a public comment period regarding the permits for the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS) which is under construction on the East Side of Manhattan.

Changes in circumstances, especially those stemming from air quality issues, require the DEC to exercise its authority under Section 621.113(a)(4) "to modify, suspend or revoke a permit at any time . . . on the basis of . . . newly discovered material information or a material change in environmental conditions."

We very much need your intervention to ensure a full-scale review of this ill-conceived project which will impact in profoundly negative ways the health and safety of thousands of residents. Our community is being held hostage to decisions made in a time and at a place that no longer bears resemblance to the circumstances of our neighborhood. At the heart of our concerns are the multitude of changes to the surrounding area that have occurred since the permits were initially approved. Because of these changed conditions I urge, in the strongest possible terms, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to hold a public hearing to review the expired permits.

Since the City's Solid Waste Management plan was released in 2004, our district has undergone significant shifts in population and landscape. The Yorkville neighborhood has experienced marked population growth since the 2000 census. The increased accessibility to the East Side resulting from the opening of a portion of the Second Avenue Subway extension will bring even more residential demand east of Second Avenue.

Five new schools have opened in the immediate ten block radius surrounding the site; First Avenue now has a bike lane; and the hospital corridor continues to grow and evolve. The expanded Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will bring an influx of cancer patients to the area, all of whom will have to endure the increased traffic and decreased air quality that will follow the opening of the Marine Transfer Station.

With the rebuilding of the East River Esplanade and increased ferry service on the horizon, waterfront conditions have also changed. For these reasons and more, it is crucial that the DEC reexamine its plan to host a dump at this location.

Many of our concerns with the location of the site have been raised since the plan's inception and still have not been sufficiently addressed. The MTS site is closely situated beside important community facilities: Asphalt Green and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments. Asphalt Green, a nonprofit sports and recreation facility that hosts 34,000 children every year, will be dissected by the MTS. Three NYCHA developments housing 5,700 low-income residents (approximately 1,590 of whom are children and 2,010 of whom are seniors) also neighbor the MTS site. The dangers associated with poor air quality and garbage truck traffic will impact thousands of families.

The diesel trucks that are scheduled to travel through the middle of Asphalt Green will cause irreparable harm to the children playing at the facility, but the trucks' emissions will not stop on the field. The emissions will follow the trucks around the streets of Manhattan and beyond, impacting all of those who find themselves living, working or playing in their paths.

In neighboring East Harlem, asthma prevalence rates are among the highest in the city. The construction and operation of the MTS and its associated traffic will be extremely detrimental to this already asthma-plagued community. The fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emitted by the garbage trucks entering and exiting the site will be especially harmful to the population of children who play and live around the site. The presence of PM2.5 will result in increased rates of hospitalization for respiratory issues in the East Harlem community and beyond.

Again, I strongly urge you, Mr. Anderson, and your colleagues, to allow our highly residential community the opportunity to testify at a public hearing sponsored by the Department.

We need you do the right thing for the people of our community.

Rebecca A. Seawright
Member of Assembly, 76th AD