Garbage Shed- Up Close And Personal:
The Abandoned Marine Transfer Station at Gravesend Bay
Brooklyn Community Access Television
Wednesdays at 2:30pm and 10:30pm
Channels 35 and 68
Video streaming at bcat.tv (ch. 2)
ph: 718-875-3134 Email: email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Some people don’t want this kinda business here…I guess they donâ€™t make enough money to pay enough taxesâ€ -Greenpoint scrap yard worker
â€œThe asthma rate is highâ€-Annette Lamato, Greenpoint environmental activist
This week, April 25, 2007, GREENVISION presents â€œBARGING IN-Garbage Port Imposed on Gravesendâ€, about two Brooklyn neighborhoods who have fought being poisoned and dumped on for years.
The show opens on a seemingly pastoral setting-my camera pans over Bensonhurstâ€™s lovely Gravesend Bay, with its sensual south shore dunes in the foreground. But then I zoom in slowly to reveal the lettering on a large abandoned nondescript shed on the north shore-NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION.
Zoom back eight years ago…I got an urgent call from the intrepid Greenpoint activist Annette Lamato. Hundreds of garbage trucks were suddenly rumbling past her house daily (due to the closing of barge fed Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island) spewing toxic diesel fumes, cracking the walls of her familyâ€™s 100 year old home and wracking her familyâ€™s nerves! â€œWould it be possible for someone from the Green Party to film the scene to support an ongoing lawsuit?â€ The next two days were a blur of activity-we bought a video camera and headed for Greenpoint for Annetteâ€™s â€˜grand tourâ€™. It was my first Greenvision episode.
The Lamatos were incensed about the Cityâ€™s Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) which shifted the cityâ€™s garbage burden from S.I. to their neighborhood. Private trucking companies (mainly Waste Management) would now coordinate with the Department of Sanitation (DOS) and haul all the nasty stuff away to parts unknown. The trucks often idled for hours, grimly waiting their turn to inch forward and fill their tired buckets with Sanitation Department refuse.
Zoning laws were enacted in the Sixties to permit, among other things, the creation of 23 waste transfer stations along New Town Creek alone that processed garbage from three boroughs. Since then, their neighborhood, once a farming community, had become a wasteland of brownfields, truck washes, scrap yards and other undifferentiated dumps.
Zoom forward to 2007- Bensonhurst again faces another DOS onslaught. Yes DOS, newly remonikered with the deceptively cheery anagram “DSNY” (Disney), is planning to build a 4000 ton capacity marine transfer station (one of the four MTSâ€™s planned for NYC) on the site of that white shed in the opening scene.
Five years ago the formative plan to build the â€œSouthwest Brooklyn MTSâ€ was generally applauded as a wise expedient-it would eliminate the outgoing trucks. But as the City’s wheels turned, yet another ill conceived solution to its garbage problem (this time involving dredging the bay to allow larger barges to dock) hit home to the affected communities. The dredging would stir up poisons, like PCBâ€™s, lead, mercury, cadmium and the most toxic substance known-dioxin-that had spewed forth for decades from an incinerator on the site. The incinerator was finally forced to close in the nineties under intense community pressure.
The old MTS site had also come under fire in the 80â€™s after medical waste, originating from the poorly run facility, had washed ashore from New Jersey to Maine-not to mention Coney Island beach less than two miles away!
Like old Greenpoint, whose name suggests the lushness that predated the brownfields and toxic sludge, this section of coastline is still blessed with natural beauty. With its three public parks and a charming array of beachfront homes (where we sometimes live) Gravesend Bay is not graves-END-yet. Locals can charter a fishing boat or, as I show, do a fishing â€œdanceâ€ from the shore. Edible (though questionable) prizes of sea bass, albacore and yellow fin are still pulled from these waters. The dredging would particularly threaten endangered species like the short nose sturgeon, that pass through on their way to their mating grounds in the Hudson.
The community is fighting back. At an April 16th â€œEnvironmental Justice Informational Meetingâ€ at Shore Parkway Jewish Center, that Green Party activist Mitchel Cohen helped organize, Assistant Commissioner Harry Szarpanski tried to soft-pedal the stationâ€™s environmental impact. Local residents, who had already been lied to and poisoned for thirty years by the DOS, weren’t buying it. They learned that Cropsey Avenue, a major artery in Bensonhurst, is slated to become a choked-up route for ONE HUNDRED TRUCKS PER DAY! Fine diesel particles go deep into the lungs and stay there!! Did someone say asthma epidemic?
Stay tuned to GREENVISION for Part II of â€œBarging Inâ€ as we focus on this very heated meeting. DSNY may be bent on stirring up the toxic soup in Gravesend Bay, but so far, all it has managed to stir…is rage!
Thanks for watching,
Rebecca Migdal, host
Carl Lawrence, producer
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. We can dramatically reduce solid waste voluntarily! Insist on tighter standards for domestic and commercial waste production. Compost at your community garden. Reward businesses that provide consumers with low-waste packaging options, and restaurants that use china and silverware instead of throwaway dishes and utensils. Regulate the disposal of construction rubbish. For more info on how to live lightly on the earth, go to globalstewards.org
Read an article on the public information meeting at