By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Two elected officials who have spent years fighting the city’s plans for a garbage processing plant in Bensonhurst are set to renew their battle on Sunday.
Assemblyman Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) and Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) will lead a protest rally against the city’s already approved plans to construct a marine transfer station on the site of the old Bensonhurst Trash Incinerator on Shore Parkway. The incinerator was shut down by the city in the early 1990s. Colton had also led an effort to get the city to close the incinerator, charging that the trash burner was ruining the environment and affecting the health of residents, many of whom were diagnosed with respiratory ailments and other serious illnesses.
The rally will take place on Sunday, June 1, on the Bay Parkway Promenade next to the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Mall on Shore Parkway and Bay Parkway at 1 p.m.
Community leaders from across Brooklyn are also expected to take part in the protest rally being organized by Colton and Treyger. Colton has been opposing the trash plant plan for several years as an elected official. Treyger was only recently elected to the council, but has spent years fighting the city’s plan as a Bensonhurst community leader.
The purpose of the rally is to demand that the city reconsider its plan, Treyger said.
Under a solid waste management plan approved by the City Council in 2006, the Department of Sanitation will construct a trash plant, known as a marine transfer station, on the waterfront on Gravesend Bay to process household trash for shipment on barges to out-of-state landfills. Under the plan, the household trash would be delivered to the station via trucks. The garbage would then be processed and placed on to barges for shipment out of New York.
Trash plants will be built on the waterfront at several locations around the city under the plan, known as the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan.
In order to construct the piers needed to accommodate the trash-carrying barges, however, the city will have to dredge the Gravesend Bay – a move that Colton and Treyger said is fraught with environmental danger to local residents. The bottom of the bay contains toxins that will rise to the surface when the dredging takes place, according to the two lawmakers.
Colton and Treyer said their concerns were validated after a report released last year that showed the presence of toxic chemicals including mercury, chlordane (a pesticide) and mirex (an insecticide) in the bay. In addition, bay contains more than 200 tons of live munitions that fell to the bottom of the sea as a result of a military accident in 1954. The munitions could be disturbed by the dredging, Treyger said.
Treyger also said that residents living near the waterfront suffered a great deal of property damage during superstorm Sandy in 2012. The city shouldn’t be adding to their stress by dredging the bay, he said.
“This project will exacerbate contaminated conditions in Gravesend Bay and once again place Sandy victims and those previously impacted by the illegal incinerator in harm’s way due to its location in a severe flood zone that will impact Bath Beach, Coney Island, Sea Gate and beyond. This is the last thing that incinerator and Sandy victims need while still dealing with the severe aftermath of burned ash and flooding,” Treyger said in a statement sent to the Brooklyn Eagle.
“Our history in Southwest Brooklyn matters just like anywhere else in New York City, and for the sake of our families and future we will not relent in our fight for environmental justice,” Treyger said.
“This dangerous garbage dump will cause serious harm to the public health, environment, and safety of the people of our neighborhoods in southwest Brooklyn. The former southwest Brooklyn incinerator, which was located and illegally operated for over 30 years by the city of New York, spewed toxic ash containing dangerous chemicals into the waters of Gravesend Bay. If this garbage station is built, those toxic substances will be released into the waters across southern Brooklyn, such as Gravesend Bay and Coney Island Creek, and along the shores of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Coney Island Beach. The City cannot go forward with this dangerous and toxic plan, and I am going to continue fighting on behalf of southern Brooklyn until this plan is stopped,” Colton said.
The fact that the trash plant would be located on the same spot as the incinerator cannot be overlooked, according to Colton.
“History matters here – the city needs to take into account that the site of this proposed garbage station is the site of the former southwest Brooklyn incinerator, which illegally spewed toxic ash into the air and waters of our community. People living and working near the former incinerator have suffered enough at the hands of the city’s reckless waste management. Residents near the former incinerator have reported increased rates of cancer, asthma, and other serious, chronic health problems. These people woke up each morning to find toxic ash from the waste incineration on their windows and cars. As we are still reeling from the aftermath of 30 years of illegal incineration, we cannot allow another dangerous plan to move forward and further wreak havoc on Southwest Brooklyn’s residents and environment,” he said.
***Article was updated to include comments from Colton***