Community activists, city council members and labor groups gathered on the City Hall steps Tuesday morning to announce a new bill that would reduce the amount of garbage trucked into northeast Brooklyn, southeast Queens and the south Bronx.
“For far too long, a small handful of communities ... have shouldered far more than our fair share of waste in New York City,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. Levin said underserved communities handle about 80 percent of the city’s estimated 35,000 tons of garbage a day.
The waste equity bill would build on the 2006 Waste Management Plan, which cut some 6 million miles of truck traffic. If passed, the bill would reduce garbage processed by 18 percent in the highly concentrated neighborhoods, and prevent any neighborhood in the future to hold more than 5 percent of city waste.
Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who chairs the Committee on Sanitations and Solid Waste Management, said the high amounts of garbage being trucked into these communities lead to higher numbers of diesel trucks on the streets, and in turn much higher rates of asthma. Reynoso said the bills will include exemptions for emergency situations, as well as garbage processing after holidays.
Reynoso said north Brooklyn has 15 waste processing plants than process about 20,000 tons of garbage a day, and cited an Organization Unity for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE) study that found air quality was three times worse on days the transfer stations were open.
Council Member Daneek Miller of Queens and Council Member Andy King of the Bronx also spoke on how the smell of garbage permeates certain neighborhoods in their boroughs, and how the presence of waste leads to a decreased quality of life for residents.
Activist and labor groups, including the Teamsters, OUTRAGE, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Sustainable South Bronx and Morningside Heights/West Harlem Sanitation Coalition, participated in the rally.
Angela Tovar of the Sustainable South Bronx, a nonprofit in Hunts Point, said that community has nine waste processing plants that can handle 12,000 tons of garbage a day.
“The Hunts Point community is overburdened with 15,000 trucks that come in and out of the community on a daily basis … and because of the current transportation configuration, these trucks are traveling on local streets,” passing by schools, senior and day care centers, Tovar said. “The residential community is completely boxed in.”
“I live and I work in the south Bronx, i live in southwest Bronx and I work in southeast Bronx, and that right there is the pinnacle of all environmental hazards,” said Rebecca Rosado. “I live and work in that environment day in and day out.”
“If this bill were to pass, this would mean serious alleviation of our streets from the amount of truck traffic that we have because of the garbage trucks and all the different waste transfer stations that clutter our waterfront," Rosado added.