After learning of the extended time frame for public comments regarding two waste-by-rail permits, members of Community Board 5 (CB 5) collectively voted against them during its meeting Wednesday night at Christ the King High School in Middle Village.
The board unanimously recommended denying the renewal of permits for One World Recycling Inc. and Coastal Distribution, which operate through the Fresh Pond Rail Yard that runs through parts of Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood, until certain stipulations are met.
One World Recycling submitted a permit renewal and modification application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), requesting to increase their daily throughput from 370 tons to a total of 1,100 tons.
The permit submitted by Coastal Distribution requests to expand the type of waste it transports to include commercial and residential waste.
“The big problem we have is that somehow the idea of mixing commercial solid waste and construction and demolition debris…we disagree with that,” said Vincent Arcuri, chair of CB 5. “We also had a concern over the years, and continue to be concerned about the lack of solid covers on the construction and demolition rail cars.”
The current method for sealing construction and demolition debris in rail cars is by using a mesh lining to cover the rail car. The mesh leaves the waste vulnerable to rain and pests, as well as subjecting residents of the communities the rail cars pass through to dust, odors and vectors.
“We had success with the Department of Sanitation and them getting Waste Management to put the, what I would call, the putrescible or municipal solid waste in sealed containers,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “But the construction and demolition debris continues to move back and forth in our neighborhoods.”
Another issue raised by Arcuri about waste-by-rail operations is the lack of control of pollution from the rail cars traveling through the communities in CB 5.
“We’ve been working with the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration), the state and the CURES (Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions) group to basically upgrade all of the engines in the Long Island Rail Road’s transportation department,” Arcuri said.
The official stance of CB 5 is that “putrescible solid waste garbage should be transported separately in sealed containers as Waste Management currently does in its agreement to transport city garbage in sealed, odorless containers,” Arcuri said.
“Construction and demolition debris should also be loaded and transported in sealed, odorless containers that will totally prevent dust and odors from escaping,” he continued. “There should not be a renewal of, or granting of any permits to these two companies unless the above mentioned items are accomplished. And these companies should certainly not be permitted to expand their operations until these stipulations are included in their permits by New York State DEC.”
The board’s next step is to send their recommendation to NYSDEC before Aug. 9, the deadline for the public comment period.