Advocacy group, locals call for debris to be covered
by Holly Bieler
Jun 16, 2015 | 5833 views | 0 0 comments | 91 91 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) is fighting back against the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) recent permit for a local recycling facility to increase the tonnage of construction waste it transports daily.

The permit, issued last week, increases the daily tonnage for the One World Recycling Facility in Lindenhurst, which transports construction debris along the Fresh Pond Rail, from 370 tons to 500 to 800 tons.

No notice of public hearing for the increase in tonnage, as required by DEC, appears to have been posted, and the DEC did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

“We’re not happy about this,” said Neil Giannelli, a staffer for State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr.’s office.

The new permit comes amidst arguments from the community that local railroad cars carrying construction debris should be outfitted with plastic lids, arguing open containers inflict potentially hazardous dust and oftentimes putrid smells on local residents.

Under current guidelines, the DEC solely has jurisdiction over waste transfer stations processing construction debris, and not railcars transporting the debris. Municipal solid waste, or household garbage, is the only waste that the DEC has the authority to dictate is covered by lid, said Mary Parisen, co-chair of CURES.

“What we’re saying to the state is that until jurisdiction can be given, they should not be acting irresponsibly to allow further waste by rail,” said Parisen. “If you don’t have the power to control this, don’t permit expansion. You’re unduly burdening the communities that this [waste] goes through.”

CURES has submitted a letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens asking that New York State law be updated to enforce that waste is sealed by lids at waste transfer stations before transportation.

Under current law, transfer stations must maintain operational standards such as safety precautions for workers and monitoring of potentially hazardous waste.

"Does it make sense to have jurisdiction that says we’re protecting all the people who work in the waste transfer station, but have no jurisdiction to protect the communities?” asked Parisen. “We’re in the 21st century. This is a new way of using rail to transport waste. We need new laws to address it.”

At last Wednesday’s Community Board 5 meeting, a board member discussed an open car of construction and debris waste that, due to a defect, sat for nearly a week at 68th Place and Otto Road in the Fresh Pond Railyard across from residential housing with only mesh to cover the trash.

Board chair Vinny Arcuri, who used to work in construction, said having the open container near homes could be dangerous.

“Construction and demolition materials are usually gypsum, fiber glass, mineral fiber, cement, and all of these produce dust,” he said. “Those of us who are in the construction industry, such as myself, know that silicosis is a product of sucking in that dust for any amount of time.”

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