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South Bronx community orgs advocate for Solid Waste Management Plan

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A major chunk of the south Bronx could soon be getting some relief under the Solid Waste Management Plan being pushed by the Bloomberg administration.

About 13 privately-run, city-contracted facilities in community boards 1 and 2 covering Port Morris, Mott Haven and Hunts Point currently process solid waste before tractor-trailer and garbage trucks haul it out-of-state.

A coalition of community groups calling itself the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods are pushing the Solid Waste Management Plan, which calls for putting either a marine or rail sorting facility in every borough rather than a few industrial neighborhoods.

“We need marine transfer stations - which are all about transportation by barges as opposed to trucks,” said Kellie Terry-Sepulveda, executive director of The Point Community Development Corporation. “The new processing capacity being proposed at marine facilities would make waste transfer more environmentally friendly. We cannot just rely completely on a system utilizing just diesel trucks.”

Other coaliton members - Nos Quedamos, Sustainable South Bronx, and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice - joined The Point CDC at a public forum at its Garrison Avenue headquarters Thursday, June 14.

While the Bronx is home to 15% to 20% of the city’s population, it has been handling about 30% of the city’s solid waste since the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island in 1999, said a spokeswoman for New York City Lawyers for the Public Interest.

NYLPI represents OWN and is advocating for City Council legislation that would ensure that any new waste facility opened elseswhere would mean an equal capacity reduction in the at existing facilities around the city, said Gavin Karney, director of the environmental justice program at NYLPI.

“It would be a significant benefit to the south Bronx,” Gavin said. “It will not be that the south Bronx has eight percent of the population and therefore handles eight percent of the solid waste. The south Bronx would considerably benefit, though, through a decrease in truck traffic.”

Concentration of areas zoned for manufacturing will not allow for total equality, Gavin said.

The Solid Waste Management Plan does not have the force of law, Gavin noted.

The proposal has the support of Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Gavin said.

The plan to reduce the trash burden on the south Bronx also has the support of Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Councilwoman Helen Foster, and Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, activists said.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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