New York City’s garbage is a hot-button issue these days. Since we all contribute to the problem (unless, by some crazy chance, you manage to exist without producing trash, please share your secret!), so it’s extra-important to have an understanding of what happens to those bags after their curb-side pick-up. http://www.nyenvironmentreport.com
The Barge NY Map (above) blue flags show the locations of our Waste Transfer Stations; where garbage trucks unload. Note that most locations are near our waterways. The garbage is reloaded onto tractor trailers, barges or railcars and taken to upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio landfills at the cost of over $330million annually to NYC taxpayers..
A few important points that the map makes:**
- Most of the city’s 59 transfer stations utilize tractor-trailers to move trash. There are only 7 marine barge transfer stations (every marine barge will eliminate up to 28 tractor trailer trucks from the roads), 5 rail transfer stations (approx. 2200 tons /day transferred by rail from Waste Services’ East 132nd Street, and from the Harlem River Yard, both in the Bronx), and 3 incinerator plants.
- The neighborhoods of Newtown Creek and the South Bronx host 32 transfer stations. Collectively, these stations handle more than 60% of NYC’s annual waste. (Both areas have higher than average hospitalization, child asthma, and death rates linked to air pollution)
- Newtown Creek has 19 Waste Transfer Stations — this is the densest cluster in all of the city. See video below to understand more about this community.
After the 2001 closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, the city had no place to take its trash aside from other locales throughout America. The city’s 12,000 tons/day of residential waste – excluding Manhattan’s – (Manhattan’s residential waste is trucked daily by the NYDS to a Covanta incineration plant in Newark, which converts trash into energy*). and an equal amount of commercial waste is delivered by 2,000 plus trucks to our waste transfer stations. I am just learning that commercial waste and residential waste are handled by different carriers so the previous stats I quoted were NYSD residential garbage only!
While converting Manhattan’s residential trash to energy is arguably better than burying it, there are real costs associated with the practice. Kim Gaddy, a Newark resident and community organizer with Clean Water Action, described being on the receiving end of Manhattan’s garbage as “a nightmare.” “We have been fighting the Covanta [the plant’s operators] facility for 20 years.” Covanta has finally agreed to install new filtration technology for the plant’s boilers after this long campaign by local residents.
Since 2001, the City relies on Interim Export contracts. Under these contracts, all DSNY-managed Waste is tipped at in-City, private transfer stations and transferred to out-of-City disposal sites; or direct-hauled in collection vehicles to out-of-City transfer stations or disposal facilities. Interim Export contracts are let by bid for specific wastesheds or boroughs. These contracts have a three-year term with two one-year renewal terms at DSNY’s option. DSNY anticipates maintaining Interim Export contracts in effect until the Long Term Export facilities for specific boroughs are available for use.
The hot button issue starts here. No one, understandably, wants our neighborhoods and communities to be the destination point for our garbage smells, noise, and pollution. We all love invisible garbage! And yet, the challenge is only getting bigger, as we waste more and more.
*I can’t find specific information (yet!) on why Manhattan’s garbage is treated differently.
**2006 statistics (much can happen in 8 years w/NYDS on it) but this study was part of a hard won effort to address NYC Waste
Check out the long term affects on one of our most “convenient” water access communities by joining Bernard Ente, on a trip up the creek and support the Newtown Creek Alliance.
Until next week,