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PR- 114-09
March 10, 2009


Next Step Forward In Landmark Solid Waste Management Plan

35 Percent of All City Municipal and Residential Solid Waste is Exported by Rail

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty and Waste Management of New York, LLC today announced that New York City has taken the next step in implementing its historic Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) by exporting North Brooklyn’s residential and municipal solid waste by rail instead of truck. Instead of using long-haul tractor trailers, which clog City roads, bridges and tunnels as they travel to out-of-state landfills, rail cars will export waste using a newly re-designed transfer station. The announcement took place at the Waste Management Varick Avenue I transfer station in East Williamsburg. The Solid Waste Management Plan establishes a cost-effective, equitable and environmentally sound system for managing the City’s waste for the next 20 years, and it is a key part of the City’s effort to improve air quality, cut traffic, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“By exporting 950 tons of residential and municipal waste per day by rail, we’re eliminating more than 40 long haul tractor trailer trips each day – or about 13,000 trips per year,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “That’s not only going to help reduce congestion on the borough’s streets and highways, it also will reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve the air we breathe – especially in communities that have long been unjustly saddled with handling other people’s waste.”

“The Solid Waste Management Plan has revolutionized the way our City handles its solid waste,” said Commissioner Doherty. “Our long-term contracts with our partner, Waste Management, and the utilization of the Varick Avenue I transfer station, will bring us one step closer to each borough handling their waste more equally.”

“When it comes to waste management, Brooklyn has not been a “NIMBY,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, “You could even say our borough has been a “YIMBY”—we are certainly willing to do our fair share. But thanks to the Mayor, and the environmental justice movement, we have been able to constantly improve the way we handle the responsibilities that come with living the greatest city in the world. The New York City Solid Waste Management Plan is a godsend to NYC residents, especially those families in neighborhoods like Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick, who will reap major health benefits from this new rail plan—and finally get some of the environmental justice they deserve.”

“For too long Community Board 1 has been burdened with a disproportionate amount of the City’s waste and has suffered with truck traffic, deplorable street conditions and high noise and air pollution,” said Council Member Diana Reyna. “Waste by rail will assist in alleviating this inconvenience and is a step in the right direction in moving forward with a more environmentally just Solid Waste Management Plan.”

Six days per week, the newly re-designed Varick Avenue I transfer station will receive an average of 950 tons of waste per day from Brooklyn Community Boards 1, 3, 4, and 5.  Waste will be loaded into rail containers, each holding approximately 18 tons. Once sealed, the containers will be loaded onto rail cars at the adjoining rail yard, and moved by the New York & Atlantic Railway to the Fresh Pond Yard, where it will be connected to CSX Transportation trains for transport to disposal sites. 

“As a national leader in sustainable environmental solutions and a pioneer in the use of rail to transport waste, Waste Management is privileged to partner with The City of New York on this innovative plan to meet the long-term solid waste management needs of its residents,”  said David Balbierz, New York Area Vice President for Waste Management.

The historic Solid Waste Management Plan, which was adopted by the City Council and approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 2006, changes the way the City transports waste. The SWMP will eliminate nearly six million miles of truck trips per year in New York City and ensure that every borough has the capacity to handle its own waste and recyclables.

Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler is overseeing the implementation of the SWMP through a working group that includes the Department of Sanitation, the Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the Office of Management and Budget, the Law Department and the Parks Department. All Bronx residential and municipal waste – approximately 2,100 tons per day – is currently exported for final disposal by rail, rather than by truck. Staten Island was the first borough to have household waste exported by rail rather than truck after Mayor Bloomberg reactivated the Staten Island Railroad. Staten Island exports 750 tons per day of household waste using the new rail link. As part of the SWMP, the City is also building four marine transfer stations, two of which, located in Sunset Park and College Point, the City will break ground on by the end of this year. Due to special legislation passed by the state legislature last year and signed into law by Governor Paterson, soon all of Manhattan’s recyclables will be shipped by barge when a marine transfer station on Manhattan’s Gansevoort Peninsula is reactivated.

The Mayor and Commissioner Doherty were joined by Borough President Marty Markowitz; Council Member Diana Reyna; David Balbierz, New York Area Vice President for Waste Management; Paul Victor, President, New York and Atlantic Railway; Bill Goetz, CSX Transportation; Elizabeth Yeampierre, Board President of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance and Executive Director of UPROSE; Ray Kairys, Chair of OUTRAGE, affiliate of OWN; and representatives from the St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation.


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   212) 788-2958

Vito Turso   (Sanitation)
(646) 885-5020

George McGrath (WM)   (212) 354-5588

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