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TNT use sparks outcry

Recent news of blasting at Jerome Park Reservoir is shaking tempers throughout the northwest Bronx.

In response to the Department of Environmental Protection’s announcement that the agency is considering using dynamite during continuing construction of the Croton Filtration Plant at the Mosholu Golf Course, Community Boards 7, 8 and 12 are sponsoring a public hearing to address local concerns on Tuesday, July 15.

Running from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Lehman College, at 250 W.  Bedford Park Blvd., community members will have the opportunity to discuss the new controversial proposal.

“We question the real motive for the DEP to decide to do this now,” Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado said. “What’s the real savings to the community?”

According to the Croton plant’s final environmental impact statement, dynamite would be used to clear a new tunnel that would connect the Jerome Park Reservoir to the Croton Filtration plant.

The DEP claims using explosives would not only produce less noise and dust than if they went ahead with the original plan to drill, but also would reduce contractor work time from 26 to 16 weeks. Along with a shortened timeframe, the City said blasting is a lot cheaper than drilling.

Tirado said, all money aside, using explosives completely contradicts the project’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which clearly states, “there would be no surface drilling or blasting” at the reservoir.

In addition, he encourages the DEP to consider the numerous potential hazards that could arise from blasting a handmade, 100-year-old structure. “Where’s the environmental statement there,” he questioned.

The original plans explain that digging upward from the underground tunnel to the surface, would create a shaft.  The excess rubble would then be transported via the tunnel connecting the reservoir to the filtration plant site where trucks would remove the rock from the area.

By utilizing the new plans, area residents say the neighborhood’s peace would be dramatically compromised.

Community members speculate that in order to remove the 9,000 cubic yards of debris, an estimated 45-90 trucks will travel through the Bedford Park neighborhood each week.

With Bronx High School of Science located just across the street from the shaft site, community activists worry the additional noise will largely disrupt the students’ ability to focus on their studies.

In response to their concern, the City donated air conditioners for one side of the building to help students deal with the additional dust, and is planning the instillation of a 20-foot-tall, noise-reducing barrier outside the school. But Tirado said it isn’t enough.

“What about Dewitt Clinton or residents in Scott Towers,” he questioned, referencing the numerous other community members who won’t receive help combating the additional noise or air pollution.

Tirado said a strong public hearing might make all the difference in stopping the DEP from moving forward. He said, “We’re hoping people will come and speak out against it.”

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