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Thread: City Seeks Ideas as Trash Costs Dwarf Estimate

  1. #1

    Default City Seeks Ideas as Trash Costs Dwarf Estimate

    December 2, 2003

    City Seeks Ideas as Trash Costs Dwarf Estimate


    The Bloomberg administration has concluded that its plan to compact mountains of residential trash and export it by barge or rail will take much longer and cost nearly twice as much as it projected, and officials now say they are once again looking for new ideas.

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's decision to reopen the question of long-term ways to handle the city's garbage reflects an admission by his administration that a solution will be more complicated than the businessman-turned-politician had expected. The problem has vexed mayors for decades, and has caused no end of political troubles over proposals for trucking, incinerating and burying the trash.

    Mr. Bloomberg is not abandoning his plan, announced with much fanfare in July 2002, to rebuild the eight Marine Transfer Stations around the city. The stations had once been used to gather trash for transport by barge to the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, which is now closed.

    Officials now concede that the stations cannot simply be renovated; they must, in most cases, be demolished, expanded and rebuilt. Further, they said, doing that would cost $400 million and take six years, not $240 million and two years.

    Aides to the mayor are to testify today before the City Council on the garbage problem and announce their proposal to seek additional ideas.

    The Bloomberg administration has already decided to invite private contractors and trash disposal companies to set up barge or rail export facilities within the city at a lower cost. Doing that may eliminate the need to rebuild the transfer stations in the South Bronx and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

    The administration also plans to hire a consultant to evaluate longer-term alternatives, like a semi-submersible ship to send trash as far as the Caribbean or using a new technology that can turn trash into a natural gas and reusable stone-like material.

    Those steps could help the city replace the transfer stations in the future if exporting containerized trash through them proves to be too expensive, something the city now fears might happen soon because landfill prices are rising.

    "We are evaluating existing public and private sector capabilities and researching new technology for waste collection, shipping and disposal," Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the mayor, said yesterday.

    Since 1997, the city has relied on a solution it promised would be temporary to dispose of its trash: it sends most of it by truck to landfills, primarily in Pennsylvania and Virginia. That method replaced another temporary plan, one that had existed for 53 years: use of the Fresh Kills landfill.

    Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gov. George E. Pataki made good on a promise to heavily Republican Staten Island to close the landfill to residential waste, phasing in the shutdown over four years that ended in 2001. The city has not incinerated its trash since 1994.

    The current plan, known as the interim export plan, has led to a rumble of trucks on streets and highways throughout the region, and has pleased no one, including Mayor Bloomberg and City Council leaders.

    "Unfortunately, the interim plan, with the obnoxious land transfer stations, the thousands of trucks being put on the roads and the spiraling costs, is looking more and more like the long-term plan," said Councilman Michael E. McMahon, chairman of the sanitation and solid waste management committee, which will meet today for the briefing by the mayor's aides. "And that reality is quite frankly horrible."

    Six days a week, about half of Manhattan's and Staten Island's garbage is now delivered by city trash truck to Newark, where it is incinerated at the trash-to-energy plant that American-Ref Fuel owns there. Almost all the rest of the city's trash is driven by city trash truck to land-based transfer stations, eight of them in the boroughs where it originated, and seven across the Hudson in Newark, Elizabeth, Paterson, Totowa and Jersey City.

    That means that New York City's distinctive white trash trucks now make about 240,000 trips a year to and from New Jersey, mostly over the George Washington Bridge, taking at least 30 minutes to travel each way. In addition, 250,000 or so trips are made on the region's highways by tractor-trailers taking the waste to landfills in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio. A tiny part of the city's 11,000 tons a day of residential trash goes to a landfill in upstate New York.

    Moving it out of the city has proven to be enormously expensive. Just in tolls alone, the city spent $2.25 million last year. Trucking and landfill cost $248 million last year. In addition, the city has had to hire 300 extra relay drivers who take over after the trash is picked up at the curbs and drive the city sanitation trucks to transfer stations in New Jersey.

    As a result, the total cost of disposing of a single ton of trash in 2002 was $257, 40 percent more than the $183 it cost in 1996.

    Early in his administration, Mr. Bloomberg made finding a new way to handle the city's trash one of his top priorities.

    "We are not going to continue to give your kids lung disease, no matter what the cost is," the mayor said at City Hall in July 2002, when he unveiled his long-term solution. "That's the bottom line."

    He vowed to stop hauling trash out of the city by truck, saying that he would retrofit the eight old Marine Transfer Stations by 2004 and build a new one on Staten Island. Almost all those stations have been closed since 2001, as Fresh Kills shut.

    The goal, he said, was to get the trash out of the city by barge or rail, and not by truck, which adds to air pollution and traffic problems and sends city sanitation trucks streaming through suburban New Jersey six days a week.

    Mr. Bloomberg, who made his billions by applying technology to old problems, has since learned that his solution is enormously more complicated than he had expected.

    The eight city Marine Transfer Stations, when used to move trash to Fresh Kills, were little more than piers with a pit through which trash could be dropped into an open barge. Under the mayor's plan, the city would compress the trash and seal it into specially designed containers that could more easily and cheaply be stacked onto an oceangoing barge or put onto a rail car and shipped great distances.

    The new stations would need a large open floor where the trash would be dumped before being compressed and stuffed into the sealed containers. The problem is that the old transfer stations are just not large enough. The city would have to extend the piers they are on, creating, for example, about half an acre of new property at West 59th Street in Manhattan, a 50 percent increase in the size of the current pier.

    "The harder we looked, the more we learned there is nothing left that you can use," Walter A. Czwartacky, director of special projects at the Department of Sanitation, said of the old transfer stations.

    Another hurdle has been opposition on the Upper East Side and in Harlem in Manhattan to the plans to reopen two of the old transfer stations. Among the opponents is the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, who represents the East 91st Street neighborhood where one of the now-dormant stations is located.

    Mr. Bloomberg no longer is predicting that the retrofitted transfer stations could be ready to handle waste by 2004. Construction is not expected to begin until next year at the earliest.

    The city is now looking for ways to speed up the shift to an export system that uses mainly barges and rail cars. The easiest alternative would be to find companies that own existing trash transfer stations that could be quickly converted and then used to export trash by barge or rail.

    The Harlem River railyard in the South Bronx, for example, owned by Waste Management Company, sends about 420,000 tons of trash a year out of the city by train. City officials are hoping that reconfiguring or expanding that facility might save the city at least part of the $50 million it had planned to spend to rebuild it. Similar alternatives may be considered for the station in Greenpoint, where another private trash company operates.

    The Bloomberg administration is looking even further ahead to find ways to control trash export costs.

    Some of the landfills the city relies on, particularly those in Pennsylvania, are filling up so quickly that the city is concerned that they will run out of space, and that the costs will rise concurrently. The Bloomberg administration plans to hire a consultant to evaluate new techniques.

    James C. Florio, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., entrepreneur, believes, for example, that he can save the city $1 billion over 20 years by building three 900-foot semisubmersible ships, at a cost of $100 million apiece. Mr. Florio said the ships would carry as many as 18 of the old-style barges at a time to landfills in the northeastern United States or to an island in the Caribbean, which he would not name, where an incinerator would be built.

    The City Department of Sanitation has twice evaluated that idea in recent years and concluded that it would not work financially. Still, Bloomberg administration officials said, it was worth one more look.

    Among other ideas the consultant will likely be asked to assess is a proposal to build a trash plant within New York City that would heat waste to such a high temperature — perhaps 30,000 degrees — that the garbage would break into elemental components, creating byproducts of natural gas and a stone-like residue. The gas the plant would create could be used to power it.

    One company that recycles paper for the city on Staten Island, Visy Industries, has already proposed a so-called gasification plant that would allow Staten Island's waste to be either recycled or disposed of without shipping it out of state, city officials said.

    "You can't embrace a new technology and overnight make it a new solution for 12,000 tons a day of residential waste moving out of New York City," said Kate Ascher, executive vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which the mayor has asked to help long-term alternatives for exporting the waste. "It requires careful analysis, possibly pilot projects and testing and consensus among various groups with an interest in the city's waste handling policies."

    The evaluation of these new technologies will come at the same time that the city must solicit bids from landfill and incinerator operators to dispose of the city's garbage for 20 or so more years.

    Councilman David S. Yassky, a Brooklyn Democrat who is also a member of the sanitation and solid waste management committee, said he was pleased the mayor has brought in help from outside the department and is now hiring an outside consultant.

    "I just have a frightening sense of drift on this problem," he said. "Six months seems to go by and we are not closer to a long-term solution. And what we have right now is terribly expensive, terribly damaging to air quality and to all the neighborhoods we have to run the trucks through."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2


    February 2, 2004

    Report Calls Recycling Costlier Than Dumping


    Recycling metal, plastic, paper and glass in New York is more expensive than simply sending all the refuse to landfills and incinerators, even if city residents resume the habit of separating a sizable share of those kinds of waste, according to an analysis by the New York City Independent Budget Office that is set to be released today.

    The assertion by the budget office, a nonpartisan agency, is based on a detailed review of spending by the Department of Sanitation that evaluated both how much it costs per ton to get rid of trash versus recycling it, and, perhaps even more importantly, how much the overall trash disposal price tag would go up if the city eliminated its recycling program.

    No one at the Independent Budget Office is advocating that the city discontinue recycling. But after a year in which the city at first scaled back its program and now, this spring, is scheduled to return to a full menu of recycling, the goal was to step beyond the politics of the debate and simply lay out the economics.

    "We are just trying to look at the numbers, so people know what we are dealing with," said Douglas M. Turetsky, a spokesman for the Independent Budget Office. "We want to let people make informed choices."

    Yet the Independent Budget Office's conclusion-that recycling cost the city about $35 million more in 2002 than conventional disposal would have-is so controversial that even before the new report was set to be released today, advocates of the recycling program condemned the analysis.

    "We believe this report is deeply flawed and have discussed these problems with the I.B.O.," said Mark A. Izeman, a senior lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is preparing its own report. "Unfortunately, it appears that they have not changed their analysis."

    Recycling in New York City has long been a topic that has attracted passionate debate, as environmentalists have argued that separating paper and plastic, for example, not only saves trees and other natural resources, but is also cost-effective.

    That argument was used last year to convince the City Council and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to restart glass recycling as of this April, and to return to weekly recycling citywide, reversing what in 2002 the Bloomberg administration had argued was a budget-cutting initiative. The environmentalists had countered that curtailing the collection of recyclable goods cost the city money, a position that was backed up by a report last year issued by the New York City comptroller.

    It turns out that even the author of that report admits it had serious flaws, including inaccurate assumptions about how much the city spends on recycling. The new report by the Independent Budget Office, a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times, found that in 2002, when city residents were recycling 20 percent of their waste, an all-time high, it cost anywhere from $34 to $48 a ton more to recycle material, than to send it off to landfills or incinerators-depending on the accounting method used.

    The higher cost for recycling results in large part because collection trucks must travel farther, - and therefore for more hours-to gather the same amount of material that a standard garbage truck would. Even though tipping fees at landfills are higher than the costs of recycling certain items-the city actually gets paid for its recycled paper-the collection costs are so high it overwhelms any windfall.

    "Simply put, the cost of paying two uniformed sanitation workers to drive an eight-hour shift collecting recyclables," the draft of the report says, "is the same as the cost of paying them for an eight-hour shift collecting trash, but yields fewer tons of recyclables than the same shift would yield tons of refuse. The result is a higher average cost of collection per ton."

    Some costs associated with recycling are fixed and would not simply disappear even if the city threw out all its trash. It is not fair to assume that all of the extra costs that recycling imposed on the city in 2002 would be saved if all city waste was simply dumped. But even taking those fixed costs into account, the Independent Budget Office budget office found that if all recycling were dropped, the overall cost to the city of getting rid of its waste would still be lower.

    These conclusions, according to the draft report, would still be valid, although to a lesser extent, after the city starts a new, more attractive 20-year contract to dispose of its recyclable items than it had in 2002. In that year, the city had 3.1 million tons of trash and 796,000 tons of recycling material, including 407.000 tons of paper.

    A spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg, Jordan Barowitz, said he was not surprised by the report's conclusions. "The I.B.O. report recognizes that evaluating recycling has to be based upon an analysis of the overall cost of the program," he said.

    Mr. Izeman said he could not refute the report's conclusions, but he questioned how the budget office arrived at its cost figures for recycling, saying that it unfairly included certain debt costs and did not fully reflect the more favorable terms the city hopes to get under the new contract.

    There are ways the city could change the balance of the equation. Because there is almost no market for recycled glass, the cost of recycling it is particularly expensive. So if the city did not resume glass recycling, the overall recycling program would be more cost-effective, the report shows. Also, if city residents were to recycle a significantly larger share of their trash, the so-called "diversion rate" could go so high that the program would start to make economic sense. The city might also find a way to more efficiently collect recyclable goods, or find contractors that either charge the city less to get rid of them or pay the city more for certain items, like recycled paper.

    But as it now stands, the program is a money loser, the report concludes.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    New Jersey


    Burn the garbage, it will provide much needed electricity and could be profitable enough to subsidize large scale recycling programs of larger scale than currently offered.

  4. #4
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    Recycling may cost more, but it helps more in the long run.

    As for burning, that was done in the past. It gets VERY expensive to burn these things when you have to satisfy certain EPA clean air agreements. As for getting rid of these agreements because "NY is no longer the worst" is another fantasy.

    Sometimes good things cost money. OTOH, maybe NYC can make the people of NY pay for their garbage pickup through private companies like NJ has been doing for the past 20 years or so....

    I guess that is one of the reasons NJ taxes are so low...

  5. #5


    City to Resume Glass Recycling and Weekly Collection

    April 8, 2004

    Waterfront Neighborhoods Seek Relief From Trash Burden


    A group representing waterfront neighborhoods outside Manhattan urged officials yesterday to rebuild city transfer stations that ship waste by water. It wants the city to then close some of the stations that it says overburden these communities.

    Members of the group, the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods, have complained that after the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island closed, their neighborhoods were overrun by waste-processing operations and the trucks that bring the trash in and haul it out for disposal. Of the more than 50 transfer stations operating in the city, only one is in Manhattan, according to the organization, a coalition of neighborhood groups.

    To alleviate the truck traffic, the Bloomberg administration planned to rebuild eight marine transfer stations throughout the city and to build a ninth on Staten Island so that processed trash could be loaded onto barges instead of being trucked through city streets. But that plan turned out to be more expensive and time-consuming than originally thought, so the administration, while not abandoning that plan, is seeking new short- and long-term solutions.

    As a result, the waterfront group has intensified its efforts to hold the city to the original plan. "There is infrastructure that can provide immediate environmental relief if we were to switch to a water-based system of transport," said Eddie Bautista, an advocate from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, who helped organize yesterday's news conference near the shuttered marine transfer station at East 91st Street on the Manhattan waterfront.

    But Speaker Gifford Miller of the City Council, who is a probable candidate for mayor, opposes reopening that station, which is in his own district, as well as one in Harlem, because they are in residential neighborhoods, he said.

    "We should be having them not in densely populated residential areas, but in commercial and manufacturing areas that are zoned for them," he told reporters. The other marine transfer stations are also in residential neighborhoods or close to them, advocates said, but in areas that are far less wealthy than Mr. Miller's district.

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was noncommittal about what the city would do, but took the opportunity to throw a sharp elbow toward his potential rival. "Some transfer stations will work, some transfer stations won't," he said, adding that neighborhoods and boroughs would have to be "somewhat responsible" for their own solid waste.

    "I know nobody wants to be inconvenienced, and it's easy to pander to groups and say, 'Well, I'm going to have somebody else, some other part of the city, somebody that doesn't vote for me and my constituents, I'm going to have them bear all the pain so you don't,' " he said. "That's not the real world. It's also not fair."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  6. #6


    April 12, 2004

    Controls on Odor and Noise Urged for Trash Stations


    The dense clustering of waste processing operations in several neighborhoods outside Manhattan does not cause major environmental damage to the surrounding communities, a long-expected study of commercial waste disposal has concluded. At the same time, the study, to be released today, recommends stricter controls on pollution, noise and odors, which city sanitation officials say they have begun to pursue.

    The report on commercial garbage comes as the city's trash policy, one of the thorniest challenges for generations of public officials, is again in flux. The Bloomberg administration is considering new ideas for managing residential waste while it puts together a 20-year plan to manage the city's garbage.

    Mandated in 2000 by a local law, the commercial study is one of the first comprehensive attempts, sanitation officials said, to catalog precisely how and where commercial waste is produced, transported and processed. Such nonresidential refuse makes up the bulk of the city's waste stream and is handled by private companies, rather than by the Sanitation Department.

    The study, which was prepared for the city by a consultant, Henningson, Durham & Richardson, examined 39 of the city's 62 private transfer stations. It focused on four areas with some of the highest concentrations of stations, including Hunts Point in the Bronx, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens.

    Residents of those areas - often industrial zones interspersed with low-income communities - have complained that since the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island began shutting down operations in the late 1990's, their neighborhoods have been unfairly burdened, as commercial trash stations began to also accept residential garbage. Almost all of the city's residential garbage is currently processed at private transfer stations.

    In Williamsburg and Greenpoint, for instance, there are 16 waste transfer stations processing about one-third of the city's trash, including smelly organic waste and rubble from construction and demolition sites. Residents of those areas, where asthma rates are among the highest in the city, complain of ubiquitous truck traffic, noise, odors and rat infestations brought about by the sheer volume of trash moving through their streets. They have been lobbying for some of the stations to be closed.

    "All of us woke up one morning and we were surrounded by garbage, and then these garbage dumps gave birth to these big trucks going down our streets," Sal Cantelmi, a longtime Williamsburg resident, said at a recent organizing meeting of an anti-transfer station group. "Greenpoint-Williamsburg are the dumping grounds for the city and nobody knows we're here."

    But the study, which assumed that if the waste stations were not active in those locations, other industrial operations would be, concluded that the "geographical proximity" of the transfer stations does "not cause adverse combined or cumulative" environmental effects. "There are no findings,'' a summary of the report reads, "that would warrant a reduction in the number and capacity of transfer stations in the study area."

    Nonetheless, said one environmental advocate, the fact that the study recommends operational changes is itself a tacit admission that things are not as they should be. He spoke anonymously because he had not yet read the report, though he had been briefed on it,

    Although the study found that garbage trucks do not contribute unacceptable levels of pollutants to the air, it did find that the diesel engines used in sorting, moving or crushing construction debris contribute anywhere from about 1 percent to about 6 percent of potentially damaging small particles in the air.

    As a result, sanitation officials said that they planned to train inspectors to recognize visible emissions from those engines, which may be old and therefore not up to the latest environmental standards, and issue violations.

    The study also recommended that those stations handling decomposing organic waste upgrade their odor control systems to neutralize, rather than mask, them. Sanitation officials said that they plan to issue new regulations requiring those types of controls.

    Sanitation officials said that based on the study's findings, they planned to require that stations working with building materials ensure that truck wheels are cleaned before leaving the stations, to avoid tracking mud throughout neighborhood streets. The officials also said they would require automatic misting systems to keep dust levels down during processing.

    The study also found that trucks lining up at and near the stations were the biggest noise factor, and recommended focusing on design requirements for the stations to keep idling trucks off the streets, which sanitation officials said they would consider.

    Though the report is likely to bring little solace to residents who say they want fewer stations and less garbage near their homes, Bloomberg administration officials have expressed sympathy for those concerns. Their original plan to rebuild eight city-owned transfer stations - most of them now dormant - to export the nearly 13,000 tons of daily residential trash by water or rail would more evenly distribute processing operations around the city, advocates for neighborhoods near the stations s say.

    But now, that plan seems too expensive and time-consuming to be an immediate solution. Administration officials are looking for other ideas, while some of the private companies are pursuing proposals to outfit new or existing transfer stations for barge or rail access.

    "We understand that the transfer stations do impact communities and we want to lessen their burden," said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

    Precisely how the administration plans to do that is unclear. The study found that the existing city-owned transfer stations, if rebuilt to handle residential waste, could potentially also take on a sizable chunk of smelly commercial garbage, some 9,800 tons a day.

    Last week, Mr. Bloomberg told reporters, "The fundamental concept is that everybody is going to have to be somewhat responsible for the solid waste that's generated in their borough or in their neighborhood," but stopped short of assuring perfect parity among areas of the city.

    Manhattan, for example, has no private transfer stations, and the study found obstacles to installing transfer stations in that borough, because the four locations considered there were too small or too close to parks.

    All of which may leave residents near the transfer stations measuring their lives in so many truck trips and nights of broken rest. Delia Lopez, for example, says that she is frequently awakened around 5 a.m. by the stench wafting up to her Williamsburg apartment from idling trucks.

    And Carlotta Giglio, who watches hundreds of trucks pass her home on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg each day, said she no longer sits outside or even invites friends over because she is embarrassed by the noise and the filth.

    "It smells like they're transporting dead bodies that are lying out in the heat for a month," she said. "I can't explain that odor any better than that. It's disgusting."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  7. #7


    New York Newsday
    April 12, 2004

    Ways to clean up

    Odor control systems can be improved, dust better controlled, low-sulfur fuel used and lines of noisy trucks shortened, consultants say


    Private trash-transfer stations could better control odors, noise, and exhaust through improved technology, suggests a sweeping city commercial-waste study due for release today.

    The long-awaited study also concludes that the combined effects of the facilities "do not contribute adversely" to industrial areas.

    The multi-volume study was mandated four years ago and prepared by a consultant for the Sanitation Department. It has long been anticipated by residents of areas where such facilities are clustered, who are expected to dispute the more positive findings about current conditions.

    The consultants' study was required under the law that closed the city's last landfill in 2001. As assigned, it addresses conditions in four neighborhoods that have most of the 62 licensed stations: Jamaica in Queens; sections along the Newtown Creek in Brooklyn; and Port Morris and Hunts Point in the Bronx.

    Last year, 7,250 tons per day of mainly residential waste hauled by the city went through the stations, along with the 6,209 tons of commercial waste hauled by private carters.

    Among the study's chief findings, according to the executive summary obtained by Newsday:

    A number of transfer stations that handle putrescible waste "used rudimentary odor control systems that could be more effective."

    Improvement can be made in dust control, such as washing truck tires.

    Stations can be better designed to reduce lines of noisy idling trucks, and more equipment should burn low-sulfur diesel fuel.

    An average of seven major Sanitation Department violations were issued at transfer stations each month between July 2002 and June 2003.

    The primary sources of air pollution from the transfer stations are "non-road engines such as front-end loaders, used in waste processing operation," rather than garbage trucks. Federal law "appears to pre-empt the city from establishing more stringent standards for these non-road engines."

    "The overlapping effects of transfer stations ... do not contribute adversely to the typically industrial neighborhood character of the four study areas."

    Transfer stations "in aggregate, do not appear to be important determinants of air quality" when considering pollutants regulated by the federal government.

    A spokeswoman for the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods, which seeks to reduce the number of transfer stations said the group will withhold comment until after it reviews the study.

    A Bloomberg administration official said Friday that the findings are expected to provoke controversy.

    The report was prepared for the department by Hennington, Durham & Richardson, an architecture and engineering firm, along with several subcontractors.

    Its issuance is part of the planning process for residential and commercial trash citywide over the next 20 years - an increasingly expensive task.

    In coming months, the mayor's office and City Council are expected to consider adding some commercial waste to the network of city barge and rail stations now planned to help export residential trash.

    The city is awaiting proposals from private companies to build these stations.

    Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

  8. #8


    October 7, 2004

    City Trash Plan Forgoes Trucks, Favoring Barges


    Three years after the closing of the mammoth Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, the Bloomberg administration has drawn up a 20-year plan to deal with the city's residential waste by shipping the bulk of it elsewhere by barge, officials who have been briefed on the plan said yesterday.

    The city has struggled for years with how to handle the 11,000 tons of waste per day that used to go to Fresh Kills, and since it was closed the city has been relying on trucks to cart most of its garbage out of state, a costly solution that generates pollution and traffic congestion. In an announcement planned for today, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was expected to address those concerns by proposing renovation of four waste transfer stations along the city's waterfront: two in Brooklyn, one in Queens and one on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

    The plan is the culmination of a wider strategy that includes committing the city to recycling more of its garbage and shipping its commercial refuse away through a pier on the West Side of Manhattan - proposals announced over the last two weeks.

    The city did not release any estimates of what the plan would cost or when it would take effect.

    One goal appears to be to keep one borough's garbage from becoming another's burden, as is the case now, when garbage trucks rumble throughout the city carting trash mainly to points west of New York. While Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn would have marine transfer stations, where trash can be dumped onto barges, Staten Island and the Bronx would rely on trains to cart trash away.

    In recent years, the cost of handling waste has skyrocketed, as the city has depended on private transfer stations and private out-of-state haulers. By reopening its own transfer stations, the city hopes to reduce its dependence on private companies and lower its transport costs. With the marine transfer stations, the city also aims to gain more control over who carries the garbage away and where it is taken.

    The plan, whose details have not been released publicly, will likely please residents of the neighborhoods that would have reduced garbage truck traffic, as well as those of areas like Harlem that had been considered potential sites for transfer stations. But the mayor's proposal will likely trigger a fight on the City Council, particularly over the reopening of the waste transfer station on East 91st Street in Manhattan, which lies in the district represented by the Council's speaker, Gifford Miller.

    "I'm glad that they listened to the concerns that I raised about the West Harlem site, but they didn't listen when it came to the 91st Street station, which makes no sense at all," said Mr. Miller, who is likely to run for mayor in 2005. "Both of these are densely residential areas, and if it's a bad idea to open a station in one place, then it's also a bad idea to open it in the other."

    The plan is subject to the Council's approval.

    Under the plan, the city would avoid reopening the marine transfer station in the Bronx by signing a long-term contract with Waste Management, a major trash-hauling company that runs a station on the Harlem River, in the Mott Haven neighborhood, where the trash is shipped by rail. And while much of Manhattan's trash would leave the city by barge once the 91st Street station was rebuilt, some would be trucked directly from the curbside to a trash-to-energy plant near Newark under a long-term contract with an incineration company there.

    Last week, the city announced its plan for handling commercial waste, which would involve reopening the marine transfer station on West 59th Street in Manhattan. The city also intends to open the Gansevoort station in Greenwich Village, on the Hudson River near 12th Street, which would be used exclusively to handle recyclable materials from Manhattan.

    The trash problem has been a particularly vexing one for Mayor Bloomberg, who announced in July 2002 his intention to reopen eight marine transfer stations, only to backpedal after being faced with staunch community opposition and realizing that the transfer stations could not simply be reopened but would need to be demolished, expanded and rebuilt at a much higher cost.

    The administration will likely set a goal of recycling 25 percent of its waste in the next several years, officials said. It will try to achieve this goal in part by building an educational center attached to the Gansevoort station, where the public could watch how recycling works.

    Upon learning of the plan, many neighborhood and environmental groups expressed praise for the city's approach.

    "This plan is great news for Harlem," said Peggy M. Shepard, executive director of West Harlem Environmental Action. "Anything that avoids more traffic and pollution coming through our neighborhood is a good thing."

    Mark A. Izeman, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group said, "A positive part of the plan, as we understand it now, is an increased use of barge and rail to reduce truck traffic through our neighborhoods."

    Others were less pleased.

    "We think it's a terrible idea to open one of these stations in any residential district," said Richard G. Leland, a lawyer for the Gracie Point Community Council, a community group on the Upper East Side. "The mayor has made a determination to have a solid waste plan that sends hundreds of trucks that will endanger the health of children, elders and park users."

    Some city officials, particularly the city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., expressed concerns about longer-term problems the city faces in handling its garbage.

    "After much coaxing, the City finally realized that it must focus on waste reduction and recycling," Mr. Thompson said. "Now, the City must come to terms with the fact that there will be nowhere to ship our garbage unless we address this problem proactively."

    In a report to be released today, the comptroller predicted that the city would run into problems in the next several years as landfill space ran out and the cost of handling waste continued to soar. The report said the city's waste-disposal costs jumped to $75 per ton in 2002 from $54 per ton in 1997. The report also projected that Pennsylvania, one of the primary importers of New York City's waste, would nearly run out of landfill space by 2007.

    To address these concerns, the city will probably also begin exploring ways to increase recycling and will look to alternative technologies for diverting waste from landfills and incineration, experts in the field say. These technologies include gasification, which is a type of high-temperature incineration that releases almost no pollution. The city will also likely investigate an accelerated type of composting that can be done on a larger scale.

    Some experts view the plan with a touch of skepticism. "Every other plan for the last 25 years has itself ended up in the trash," said Steven M. Polan, who served as the City's sanitation commissioner from 1990 to 1992. When the last plan was released in 1992, the city committed itself to building an incinerator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and in 1999 Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced a plan to ship waste to a rail transfer operation in Linden, N.J. None of it happened, Mr. Polan said.

    "It's one thing to design a plan," he said. "It's another matter to actually implement it."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  9. #9
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village


    Quinn Backs Key Element of Trash Plan
    Published: June 9, 2006

    Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn has decided to support a new recycling plant on the Hudson River near the meatpacking district, removing a major hurdle in the Bloomberg administration's ambitious 20-year plan for disposing of the city's trash.

    In doing so, Ms. Quinn has stepped into a politically charged issue that pits her against other elected officials, parks advocates and many residents of her own West Side district, where the recycling plant would be built. It would occupy part of Pier 52, near Gansevoort Street, in Hudson River Park. Ms. Quinn's decision, which she began quietly telling people about this week, signals that the two sides of City Hall may be nearing an agreement over the long-stalled plan for getting rid of the city's residential garbage. Although state law requires the city to have a trash plan, the most recent one expired in 2004. Since then, the administration's efforts to adopt a new plan have been blocked by the City Council.

    The administration's plan emphasizes recycling and hauling garbage by barge and rail to reduce the traffic from trucks, particularly in the boroughs outside Manhattan. It would create four marine transfer stations for residential waste, including one on the Upper East Side at 91st Street, which has been opposed by nearby residents.

    The plan also calls for building a new recycling station at Gansevoort Street and converting an existing recycling station on Pier 99 near 59th Street at the northern end of the park to handle commercial waste. The recycling operation there would move to the Gansevoort Street site.

    While environmentalists have praised many elements of the trash plan, it has also drawn criticism from council members, parks advocates and some community groups. Gifford Miller, the previous Council speaker, lobbied furiously against the trash plan, in no small part because the proposed Upper East Side transfer station fell within his district.

    At Mr. Miller's direction, the Council moved last year, in a closely contested vote, to reject the sites for the residential waste transfer stations. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg vetoed the Council's action, and the Council was unable to muster enough votes to override him.

    Ms. Quinn could have similarly proved to be an obstacle, but unlike Mr. Miller, she has enjoyed a close relationship with Mayor Bloomberg and has collaborated with him on efforts to tighten restrictions on lobbyists, curb illegal guns and combat domestic violence.

    She said in an interview yesterday that Manhattan should be responsible for disposing of its own waste, and that a recycling plant could be operated at Gansevoort Street without disrupting the park or the surrounding neighborhood. She noted that there was already traffic at the pier, which has been used by sanitation trucks, and that the recycling plant would include an education center for the public.

    "Whether or not it will cause political problems, I guess time will tell," she said. "My constituents elected me to do what I believe is best for the district, and best for the city."

    Still, Ms. Quinn said she remained undecided about the conversion of the 59th Street station, as well as the creation of a residential waste station at East 91st Street. "I'll be making a decision, and the Council will be taking action, on the entirety of the plan this summer," she said.

    Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said that administration officials and Council leaders had held a number of productive meetings over the trash plan. "We believe the plan is responsible, attainable and economical and should be passed," he said.

    The Gansevoort Street site would also require state legislative approval because it falls within Hudson River Park. Some parks advocates and elected officials contend that any expansion or change in the use of the 59th Street station would require state approval as well.

    In addition, the overall trash plan would have to be approved by state environmental officials.

    Two members of the State Assembly, Richard N. Gottfried and Deborah J. Glick, whose adjoining districts would be directly affected by the recycling plant, said they disagreed with Ms. Quinn's decision and would continue to oppose the recycling plant.

    "It's not the most helpful thing, but it is also certainly not the last word," Ms. Glick said.

    Albert K. Butzel, president of Friends of Hudson River Park, said that Ms. Quinn had made "a big mistake." He said the recycling plant would take over one of the largest chunks of open space in the park, block the view and limit public access to the water.

    "I think she is losing sight of what parks mean to people," Mr. Butzel said. "Are you going to put a garbage plant in Central Park next time because it's convenient?"

    But Eric A. Goldstein, a senior lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, envisions a recycling plant that could be incorporated into the design of an urban park on the Hudson River. His group generally supports the trash plan, but it has specific concerns over recycling, he said.

    Mr. Goldstein added that Ms. Quinn's support for the recycling plant made it more likely that the entire trash plan would be approved by the Council. "It is significant because it could lead to breaking the logjam on the issue of siting waste facilities," he said. "But in this city, nothing is for certain until the concrete is poured."

    Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

  10. #10
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Would I prefer an open space / park rather than a garbage recycling plant at the Gansevoort site? Yes, BUT ...

    Responsible Downtown citizens have to acknowledge that this is something that needs to be addressed. We can't push this off into some other neighborhood. There are ways that such a recycling plant can be built so that it will serve the needed purpose AND not ruin the surrounding area. Smart planning / design / construction are all that are required. Perhaps a new structure with a "green" roof-top ...

    What other sites are there on the West Side from W 42nd down to the Battery that are both available and viable?

    None really.

  11. #11


    Do I understand correctly that there would be a plant and not a transfer station on the Gansevoort site? If a plant, what is the reason it could not be somewhere else, like Brooklyn, or Staten Island or even New Jersey?

  12. #12


    Quote Originally Posted by Edward
    Do I understand correctly that there would be a plant and not a transfer station on the Gansevoort site? If a plant, what is the reason it could not be somewhere else, like Brooklyn, or Staten Island or even New Jersey?
    Sounds like it is indeed a plant.

    Why should Brooklyn, Staten Island, or New Jersey receive the trash of Manhattan's residents?

  13. #13
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    exactly ^

  14. #14
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    This article refers to the plan as a "marine TRANSFER STATION" (with no mention of "the recycling plant" as cited in the NY TIMES article) ...

    Quinn talks trash; backs Gansevoort transfer site

    By Albert Amateau
    Volume 76, Number 3
    June 7 - 13 2006

    Christine Quinn, speaker of the City Council and councilmember representing the Village and Chelsea, this week threw her support behind a proposed marine transfer station on the Gansevoort Peninsula for recyclable waste.

    The proposal, part of the Department of Sanitation’s 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan, would require state legislation because the 8-acre peninsula where the department currently parks garbage trucks and stockpiles road salt is designated by the New York State Hudson River Park Act of 1998 as part of the 5-mile-long Hudson River Park.

    Speaking for Quinn at the June 5 Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee meeting, Carmen Cognetta, lawyer for the City Council’s Sanitation Committee, said Quinn’s support is guided by the principle that every borough must take care of its own garbage.

    “It’s been the guiding principle since the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill,” said Cognetta, conceding that it will be most difficult in Manhattan with limited space options. A marine transfer station for garbage is being built on the East River at 91st St. despite considerable community opposition, he noted. The Council speaker feels the burden of handling garbage and recycling cannot fall entirely on poor communities and every neighborhood has to do its fair share, he added.

    The station to be built on the northwest corner of the Gansevoort Peninsula — which is located on the west side of the West Side Highway across from the Meat Market — would accept between 40 and 60 sanitation trucks bringing recycled metal, glass and paper to be transferred by barges to a $20 million facility being built by the firm Hugo Neu in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

    The station would receive recyclables from city garbage trucks between noon and 3 p.m. five days a week. However, at a later date, the station might also take commercial-waste trucks bringing recyclable paper between 10 p.m. and midnight for barge transfer to Brooklyn. The night operation would involve about 10 trucks per night, Cognetta said.

    First presented two years ago to Community Board 2 as a park-compatible facility that could also serve as an environmental education center, the proposal generated strong opposition among residents, and elected officials, especially Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, a co-author of the Hudson River Park Act, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, whose district includes the peninsula, which extends one block into the river at Gansevoort St. The community board, whose resolutions are advisory, voted against the project.

    In addition to state legislation, the project would require an environmental impact study, a city uniform land use review procedure and review by the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city agency building the riverfront park.

    Responding to a question from Arthur Schwartz, chairperson of the Parks and Waterfront Committee, about a timetable for the project, Cognetta said, “We’re looking at seven, eight — 10 years.”

    The response to the proposal at the June 5 meeting was again negative. Elizabeth Loeb, a new member of C.B. 2, said she sympathized with the principle that communities of color and low-income neighborhoods should not get all the undesirable uses, but she called for a study of alternatives to the Gansevoort Peninsula station.

    “You’re going to bring trucks across Hudson River Park with people, baby carriages and bikes going this way and your trucks going that way,” said Lois Rakoff, resident chairperson of the Bleecker Area Merchants and Residents Association, showing with her hands the conflicting cross paths.

    In a telephone interview on June 6, Assemblymember Glick said she understood that Quinn, as speaker of the City Council, does not want to be seen as parochial and has to look beyond her own district. But Glick noted that Community Boards 2 and 4, covering the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, are among city districts with the least amount of park space.

    “We also have other impacts, like the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels,” Glick said “The Hudson River Park is intended to redress that imbalance and the Gansevoort Peninsula is the largest land mass in the park,” Glick said adding, “I have no intention of supporting legislation to sever the only useful piece of land from the park.”

    Last February, when the City Council heard the Gansevoort transfer station proposal, Gottfried said in a joint letter with Glick that the Hudson River Park Act specifically mentions that 80 percent of the Gansevoort Peninsula should be devoted to park use.

    Wendy Pastor, an aide to Gottfried, said on June 6 that Gottfried remains opposed to a marine transfer station on Gansevoort Peninsula.

    Moreover, Friends of Hudson River Park, a community-based advocacy group for the 5-mile-long riverfront park, sued the Department of Sanitation last year and won a settlement in October in which the department agreed to get its trucks and salt off Gansevoort by 2013 and turn the peninsula over for park use.

    The settlement also provided that the department would pay $21 million to the Hudson River Park Trust as rent for use of the peninsula for the next seven years. But the settlement does not preclude a new Sanitation Department marine transfer station on the peninsula.

    Nevertheless, Daniel Alterman, the attorney who represented the Friends in the lawsuit, said earlier this year that the organization would do everything in its power to prevent any nonpark uses on the peninsula.

    © 2005 Community Media, LLC

  15. #15


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    Responsible Downtown citizens have to acknowledge that this is something that needs to be addressed. We can't push this off into some other neighborhood. There are ways that such a recycling plant can be built so that it will serve the needed purpose AND not ruin the surrounding area. Smart planning / design / construction are all that are required. Perhaps a new structure with a "green" roof-top ...
    There is a similar structure, and part of the "roof-top" is green - literally! Riverbank State Park is located between 135th and 145th Sts along the Hudson, and is built on top of a water (sewer?) treatment facility. For those who have not been there, Riverbank is a world-class athletic park, with a football/soccer/track field, Olympic-size swimming pool, small ice rink, indoor and outdoor basketball/volleyball/whatever-ball courts, outdoor concert space, other stuff - plus a gym that's NEVER crowded and only $175 per year!!!

    So my hope is that something similar is built down at the Ganesvoort.

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