Bronx Politicians Turn Backs on Bill That Would Greatly Reduce Waste Transfer in Our Borough

In the Bronx, which handles 32% of all of New York City’s waste transfer stations [1], death from asthma rates are three times higher than the national average [2].

1. The City of New York Department of Sanitation,
2. South Bronx Environmental Health and Policy Study, 2009: / Via Transform Don’t Trash NYC

Every single New York City council member of The Bronx  (with the exception of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito who has not yet taken a position) has turned their backs on a bill that would greatly reduce the amount of waste coming into our borough from the rest of the city.

This is thanks to lobbying efforts on behalf of the waste management industry in The Bronx which would stand to lose business if the bill is passed.

According to Politico:

“At the beginning of the year, the measure had at least 26 sponsors, enough to pass the 51-member Council. It now it has 19, well short of the mark. What’s curious about the recent defectors is that all but one are from the Bronx, one of the three boroughs the bill is designed to protect.

Intro. 495 reached its peak number of sponsors in April 2015, before support began to wane earlier this year.

Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx withdrew his support at the end of June, leaving the bill with 25 sponsors, less than a majority. Councilwoman Annabel Palma, also of the Bronx, took her name off in early July. In October, Councilwoman Rosie Mendez of Manhattan withdrew her support, followed by Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx early last month.

Last week, three more Council members from the Bronx pulled their support: Andy King, Andrew Cohen and Fernando Cabrera. None of the 19 remaining sponsors represents the Bronx; all represent parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Freshman Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. of the Bronx was seen as a crucial get for bill supporters. Metropolitan is in his district and the area is among the most trafficked for trash transfer stations. But a meeting between Salamanca and bill supporters last Friday ended in a stalemate.

Salamanca had questions about the bill and indicated he was not going to sign on.

“He doesn’t support 495,” Ryan Monell, a spokesman for Salamanca, said after the meeting. “We don’t see a good amount of evidence that this will take trucks off the road … we’re also concerned about the jobs aspect.” —Lobbying efforts deliver body blow to Bronx support for waste equity bill|Politico

Council Rafael Salamanca told us that he supports the idea of the bill, however, he’s seeking to improve it. As Intro 495 stands right now won’t make a dent in reducing truck traffic in The Bronx.

But why should corporate  economics come before health and environmental concerns of poor and people of color?

This is simply a moral issue of taking care our most vulnerable.

The Bronx handles just over 30% of New York City’s garbage. Let that sink in (stink?).

Sign the petition and tell our New York City Council Members to support this bill—lives are at stake!

Intro 495, if passed, would make  waste transfer more equitable across the city instead of overburdening the South Bronx and North Brooklyn which pretty much handles all garbage for all of New York City (roughly 80% of all city trash). 

They also happen to be neighborhoods of low income people of color already suffering from hazardous environmental problems such as toxic fumes and exhaust that not only push asthma rates to epidemic levels but also some of the highest in the nation.

With all of these trucks barreling through our neighborhoods 24 hours a day, they are also a factor in pedestrian safety causing traffic fatalities with 1,400 trucks storming through the South Bronx at a rate of 2-3 trucks per hour to cart the 6,000 tons of trash in.

The Bronx cannot and will not continue to be the dumping ground for the rest of the city and we shouldn’t have to handle everyone’s trash.

Mayor Bill de Blasio ran on a platform of ending the tale of two cities and this is exactly what that is—a battle of basic human rights to a healthy environment between those with money and those economically disadvantaged.

While those who are against the bill cite job loss concerns as many waste transfer sites in The Bronx would lose business by equitable distribution of trash burden are valid, the value of a human life, of our children can’t be measured in jobs or money—our rights to a healthy environment is simply non-negotiable.

Last year, The New York Environment Report wrote about this critical issue and said:

“Eighty percent of the city’s waste handling capacity, the Council reports, is located in just three neighborhoods—the South Bronx, North Brooklyn and Southeast Queens. The proposed legislation would also cut the amount of waste processed by transfer stations in those three areas by almost 20 percent.

The severity of the over-concentration of trash processing in low income communities and communities of color is “not just,” said Terry (Kellie Terry, former executive director of the Point CDC in Hunts Point) in an interview outside a waste facility in the South Bronx. Trucks rumbled by continuously as we spoke. “It flies in the face of all of our principles as a society, and especially of this current administration.”

Almost one-third of New York City’s trash is handled at waste transfer stations in the South Bronx, and then trucked or sent by rail to landfills across the region.

The relentless truck traffic, along with the presence of the waste transfer facilities themselves, has exacted a steep price from South Bronx residents.

2014 study by the state Comptroller found that the Bronx has the highest age-adjusted asthma death rate “by far” among all counties in New York State: 43.5 deaths per million residents in the Bronx, as opposed to the state average of 13.1 deaths per million.

Exposure to exhaust fumes is a known risk factor for asthma, the study noted.” The Bronx is Breathing

We cannot continue to allow the city to destroy our environment and quality of life!

Whether you live in the South Bronx, North or East Bronx this is an issue that impacts all of us for when one area suffers, the entire Bronx suffers.

Please remember to sign the petition and distribute widely!

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