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4,000 Letters Highlighting Air Quality Issues and Hazards from Post-Sandy Delivered to

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation


New York, NY, Aug. 14, 2014 – In a press conference today at City Hall, Pledge 2 Protect, NYCHA FOR NYCHA, and New York State and City officials demanded that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hold public hearings after conducting a thorough review of the permit to build and operate the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS) which expires on October 14, 2014. Since the permit was first issued in 2009, there has been newly discovered material information and changes in environmental conditions, which under the DEC’s regulations, section 621.11, would trigger the City’s application for renewal to be treated as a new permit application.


Changes in EPA air quality tolerances and new flood elevations guidelines are just some of many changed and new conditions. The permit was first issued in 2009 pre-Superstorm Sandy. The permit was also issued using EPA air quality standards that were outdated in 2009, and have been tightened since that time. New information shows that, under permitted conditions at the MTS, concentrations of dangerous particulate matter pollutants will be exceeded. These air pollutants are associated with lung and other cancers, asthma, bronchitis and other acute and chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.


The 2013 multi-year NYC Community Air Survey revealed that the air quality surrounding the East 91st Street MTS is among the worst in New York City. Adding hundreds of diesel garbage trucks to congested traffic in this neighborhood will aggravate poor air quality already burdening this neighborhood.


Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymen Dan Quart, Robert Rodriquez and Ben Kallos all support the need to review this permit. Pledge 2 Protect and NYCHA FOR NYCHA delivered 4,000 letters to the DEC highlighting the dangerous conditions created since the original permit was issued.


DEC regulations require that the agency undertake further review and exercise its authority to modify, suspend or revoke a permit at any time on the basis of newly discovered information or material changes in environmental conditions since the issuance of the existing permit.


According to new FEMA flood maps and New York City regulations, the East 91st Street MTS platform will sit 5.59 feet below the recommended flood elevation. The MTS has not been redesigned or elevated to reduce risk to the facility and the surrounding community.   The findings of the 2014 National Climate Assessment reinforce concerns about East Coast flooding.


State Senator Liz Kruger stated, “Several dangerous environmental conditions surrounding the East 91st Street MTS have increased drastically since DEC initially approved permits almost five years ago.  We now know this MTS will flood, yet our concerns remain inadequately addressed. DEC must revisit this issue with a fresh perspective and in the most transparent way possible.  Such transparency must include public hearings to understand and address the serious risks this MTS pose to the surrounding community and the entire city.  DEC must not set aside these 4,000 letters requesting a full review.”


Speaking at the press conference, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said, “This Marine Transfer Station is in the wrong place, and it will increase solid waste disposal costs over the current routes into New Jersey—not to mention the ballooning costs of its construction,” She continued, “What’s more, the permit renewal is based on air quality standards which were out of date in the original application five years ago! It’s among the reasons I voted against the Bloomberg solid waste plan as a City Councilmember. The State DEC must hold a public hearing on this renewal, and closely review the MTS’s compliance with the State Environmental Quality Act.”


Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney provided the following statement, “In the ten years that have passed since DEC issued its permit, conditions at the location and surrounding area have changed. It would be irresponsible for DEC simply to rubber-stamp a permit renewal, particularly in an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy. This area also continues to have some of the worst air quality in the City while at the same time other areas have significantly improved.  A public hearing and a full re-evaluation of the permit would clearly be the most responsible course of action.  Quite simply, the health of our children and seniors is at stake.”


In addition to the flooding and air quality dangers, speakers noted these changed conditions:

  • The 2010 Census shows sharp population growth in the area surrounding the site, along with a significant number of residential construction projects underway.   This growth will exacerbate traffic congestion and air pollution in the neighborhood.
  • First and Second Avenues have seen the implementation of Select Bus Services, which occupy an entire lane, and First Avenue is now also home to a protected bike lane. These changes have altered traffic patterns and added to congestion since the original environmental impact statement was conducted.
  • With the additional new schools, the expanded growth of the community and the changed noise tolerance levels since the permit was passes an expert analysis of noise is necessary and needed.


“Superstorm Sandy fundamentally changed the way we must approach construction along New York City’s waterfront, and the slight modifications the City proposes don’t meet new requirements,” said Kelly Nimmo-Guenther, president of Pledge 2 Protect. “During Sandy, the area surrounding the East 91st Street site was flooded as much as four blocks inland, with debris covering the field at Asphalt Green. We urge the DEC to pause and re-evaluate the changed conditions at the location of the East 91st Street MTS before renewing permits.”


Pledge 2 Protect is a growing coalition of diverse citizens of the City who are working together to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers by raising awareness of the fiscal, environmental and community impacts of the City’s current solid waste management system and plan. NYCHA for NYCHA is a member organization representing more than 2,200 residents in over 1,100 public housing units in Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Houses located just 600 feet away from the proposed East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station.                            # # #