"Much has been said in
recent weeks about the Department of Sanitation's plans to
construct a critically-important, state-of-the-art marine transfer station in College Point, Queens.
I would like to clear up some important misconceptions.
"The new Marine Transfer Station (MTS) will be built at
the same location as the former MTS in College Point, Queens, which-although it
was not built to present state-of-the-art standards-operated safely right
next to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) for nearly 50 years, from 1954
until 2001 when the facility went out of service.
"The new MTS will be a fully-enclosed three level,
over-water facility explicitly designed for the indoor transfer of solid waste
from collection vehicles into sealed leak-proof containers that will be placed
on barges for transport directly to an inter-modal facility for export by barge
or rail. Waste will be delivered to the MTS inside closed collection
vehicles that will enter at the top level through rapid roll-up doors and tip
waste onto the second level of the facility, away from the entrance door.
On the second level, the waste will be pushed through openings in the floor into
leak-proof containers situated on the pier level. Once containers are
filled, lids will be placed on top of the containers, and each container will be
cleaned, sealed, and then exit through rapid roll-up doors. In addition,
containers will remain completely sealed while traveling on the
barges after exiting the facility. At no time in the entire
process will waste be exposed to the outside environment.
"This enclosed waste transfer operation incorporates
significant technological and operational improvements we have made in waste
handling over the last several years which are already in practice at some
facilities, such as at the Department's Staten Island Rail Transfer Station,
a similar design and layout to the North Shore
MTS. Since opening in 2006, the Staten Island facility has operated
exceptionally well, and most importantly has not attracted birds.
"With respect to safety concerns raised due to the
proximity of the planned facility to LGA, my staff, working closely with the
Port Authority, initiated the FAA review process in 2004. Through that
process, the FAA reviewed the issue of wildlife attractants in addition to the
many other rules and regulations stipulated for construction near
airports. After conducting aeronautical studies under the
provisions of 49 U.S.C., §44718, the FAA issued a
"No Hazard Determination" to DSNY on September 19, 2008, concluding that
the planned facility is compatible with safe airport operations.
"According to FAA guidance documents, enclosed
waste-handling facilities are compatible with safe airport operations as long as
they are not located on airport property or within the Runway Protection Zone
(RPZ). Through the extensive review
process, the FAA confirmed that the North Shore MTS,
as previously pointed out, will be fully enclosed, is not located
on airport property and is not within the RPZ.
"In light of recent attention to this matter, my staff
has conducted further reviews of planned operations for the North Shore
MTS with the Wildlife Services Division of the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA concurs with the FAA
determination and has no objections to the planned facility.
"The planned MTS in College Point is an integral part of
New York City's Solid Waste Management Plan-adopted by the City Council and
approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in
2006-which is designed to fundamentally transform the way the City handles its
residential waste and recyclables, from the largely truck-dependent export
network in use today, to
a barge- and rail-based network. The plan will eliminate
millions of truck miles traveled every year and ensure that the
distribution of solid-waste facilities is equitable throughout the City.
"Opponents of the project would have the public believe
the project is unsafe, when in fact it has been designed not to attract birds
and has completed an exhaustive review process. The facility in Staten
Island with a similar design and layout is situated near the former Fresh Kills
landfill, and does not attract wildlife. For these
reasons, I remain confident the North Shore MTS will
help achieve the goals of our landmark Solid Waste Management Plan
without interfering with airport operations or jeopardizing public safety."