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Press Release

Date: Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Contact: Christopher Greaves, Communications Director, (212) 961-1000, ext. 304 or Chris@weact.org

With the mingled odor of diesel exhaust and day-old rubbish growing increasingly distinct at 342 East 100th Street, embittered tenants of the Harlem high-rise are set to tell their elected officials why Department of Sanitation practices stink.

The tenants' association at 342 East 100th Street has called a meeting with Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Councilmember Phil Reed, Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, and NY State Senator Olga Mendez to clear the sordid air. The meeting, to be held in the offices of Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) at 1948-50 1st Avenue, on Thursday, November 13th, will address residents' ongoing problems with the—so far unresponsive—Department of Sanitation.

"DOS trucks are left idling to all hours of the night," said Addie Jones, president of 342's tenant association. Jones, whose ground level apartment opens out to an unseemly vista of garbage-filled trucks, has clandestinely filmed hours of tape showing drivers idling trucks in a DOS lot at the corner of 99th Street and 1st Avenue—a mere 14 feet from residents' homes. At times, says Jones, the entire fleet of DOS trucks at 99th Street is turned on at once, filling adjacent apartments with diesel fumes and deafening engine noise—often at pre-dawn hours. "When I wake up at that time," said Jones at a tenant association meeting last month, "I am not all smiles."

Her co-tenants at 100th Street aren't grinning either. Idling is prohibited by law and diesel exhaust from running engines is linked to a variety of ills, including cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc., an environmental justice group headquartered at 125th Street, has been working closely with tenants to ameliorate conditions near 99th Street for several years. WE ACT is part of a broad struggle to preserve and protect the health and well-being of northern Manhattan residents. "It's unfortunate that our residents will have to endure another Thanksgiving with the unbearable smell of trash and hazardous diesel emissions," says Yolande Cadore, WE ACT's community organizer. "We hope our elected officials will make our residents' lives a priority this holiday."

The depot, which garages a minimum of twenty-five garbage trucks, services not only Manhattan Community Planning Board 11, but houses the overflow from several other districts, including the Upper East Side. The depot is directly across the street from Junior High School 99 and Metropolitan Hospital. East Harlem has the highest rate of childhood asthma hospitalizations in the country.


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