Carrying signs of protest and visual aids such as mock HAZMAT suits, skunk, and a large model of an asthma inhaler, the group marched on the NYOFCo’s fertilizer plant on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22.
MOM members and area residents marched several blocks to the plant, singing hymns such as “This Little Light of Mine,” and chanting their demand for clean air.
The group demanded Commissioner Emily Lloyd of DEP, David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg enforce higher standard to eliminate the smell and pollution from the New York Organic Fertilizer Company and the Hunts Point Water Pollution control plant.
The candlelight vigil included speeches by several of MOM’s board members, and included a visual of the head of the private firm that owns NYOFCo, David Rubenstein of Synagro Technologies, leading Mayor Bloomberg on a dog leash through the streets of Hunts Point, winding up at the fertilizer plant at 1108 Oak Point Avenue.
“Bloomberg talks about PlanNYC, but does that only mean for communities that can afford it,” asked MOM board member Tanya Fields at the rally outside the plant. “Do not neglect our community; give us clean air.”
MOM members and community residents were outraged about the high levels of asthma and respiratory problems they say are partially caused by the high concentrations of pollutants in Hunts Point.
“People in this neighborhood experience three times the asthma rate, and 20 times the rate of deaths due to respiratory problems, as any other place in this city,” stated MOM member Lucretia Jones. “This is what I call environmental racism.”
Dozens of people showed up to the rally, which attracted the attention of the local media, and concerned area residents.
“I live in a house, and am sometimes embarrassed when I invite people over, because often when we are in the back yard we have to go inside after five minutes due to the nasty smell,” said participant Christian Roman.
Hope may be on the way.
“DEP understand that locating, identifying, and improving the level of odors in Hunts Point is an issue of great concern to the community and the agency is committed to being part of that effort,” a DEP spokesperson said. “These issues will be addressed as part of a multi-agency Odor Management Plan that will investigate a broad range of odor sources in the Hunts Point area.”
©2008 Community News Group