Officials Call for New Permit Process for M.T.S.

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:15

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and other East Side pols say the state needs to issue new environmental permits for the trash station

Upper East Side Elected officials gathered at Asphalt Green last week, the recreation center adjacent to the site of the future East 91st Street marine trash transfer station, to call on the state to issue new environmental permits for the site.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was joined by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, Assemblyman Dan Quart, Councilman Ben Kallos, Assembly candidate Rebecca Seawright, Pledge2Protect President Kelly Nimmo-Guenther and other community activists. The group is calling on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to hold a new hearing on the request by the Department of Sanitation of New York (DSNY) for a renewal of the permit for the Marine Transfer Station (MTS) due to significant changes since the permit was issued in 2009.

"The permit for the MTS was issued before Superstorm Sandy, before new FEMA maps came out showing that the MTS' platform is 5 ½ feet below base flood elevation, before small particulate monitoring was standard, before bike paths changed traffic patterns and before many new residential buildings and schools were built in this area," Maloney said. "These changes are sufficient under state law to require a thorough re-evaluation and a public hearing. It is outrageous for DEC to consider rubber-stamping the renewal."

Maloney said that she and others are prepared to file an Article 78 lawsuit, a civil action which can challenge a decision made by a state agency, in order to compel the DEC to hold a public hearing on the MTS' environmental permits.

"The public has the right to a complete, transparent and thorough hearing by the Department of Environmental Conservation on the permit for the 91st St. Marine Transfer Station," said Kallos. "Since the permit was first issued, many factors have changed--including the density of the area, the number of schools nearby, and the approach the city takes to safeguarding against storms."

The proposed facility, which will have a large presence on the East River, would process as much as 4,290 tons of garbage per day, causing a line of garbage trucks to drive through a densely-populated residential area to converge on the proposed site. The cost of building the garbage transfer station has grown from an estimated $44 million in 2002 to $215 million today. According to the Independent Budget Office, the cost of disposing of the trash will rise from the current $90/ton to $238/ton.

Opponents also cite the potential damage to the East River ecosystem, which has flourished over the past decade as water quality has improved, as well as the potential for the site to flood in the event another large tropical storm or hurricane.