135th Street Transfer Station Stays Shut

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Press Release

Date: Friday, November 12, 2004
Contact: Christopher Greaves, Communications Director, (212) 961-1000, ext. 304 or Chris@weact.org

135th Street Transfer Station Stays Shut, As Mayor Reopens Gansevoort Station

With Harlem communities suffering under a cloud of air pollution from diesel combustion and grappling with an asthma crisis so acute it earned mention in the Democratic nominee’s July acceptance speech, Mayor Bloomberg's plan to reopen the 135th Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS) sparked strident protestations here in Harlem. In a community already beleaguered by a disproportionate share of environmental hazards, the mayor's announced decision to pursue a different course is welcome news.

"We are appreciative that the city has heard our voices," says WE ACT Executive Director Peggy Shepard. "We understand that we are a disproportionately affected community," says Shepard. "This demonstrates what an organized community can achieve."

The operation of facilities like the trash station —which would have relied on the combustion of diesel fuel to power its trucks— contributes to air pollution and threatens public health. With six diesel-bus depots; two of the city's largest sewage treatment plants; several sanitation diesel vehicle garages; and two outdoor New York City Transit Authority train yards, upper Manhattan already plays host to a hefty share of less than wholesome sites. The pollution from such facilities, primarily the combustion of diesel fuel, is a major trigger for asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

"When the trash station was fully operational, it was the only such facility in Manhattan operating 24-hours a day and drew 93 garbage trucks, one truck every 15.5 minutes, up and down Harlem's narrow brownstone streets," says Yolande Cadore, WE ACT's organizing director and chief coordinator of the 40-member Northern Manhattan Environmental Justice Coalition (NMEJC). The battle to forestall the "un-grand" reopening was led by NMEJC, a group initiated by WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

"When the MTS was here, it was very, very hard to do business," said Eddy Borrero, a coalition member who owns and operates Riverside Beer & Soda on 12th Avenue and 133rd Street. "The mayor's decision means I can continue to receive deliveries without city trucks blocking the way and that my customers will be able to park their cars and come in and purchase things," he said.

Though many are thrilled by the mayor’s decision to shift gears, the NMEJC-WE ACT battle to safeguard Northern Manhattan is far from over.

"We will redouble our efforts to protect our communities from other city-run facilities that operate without community oversight or accountability and endanger our health," says WE ACT's Peggy Shepard. Coalition members like Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, chairman of Community Board 9, expressed relief with a cautionary tone. "I'm pleased with the mayor's announcement," he said. "But I'm not completely satisfied this issue has gone away."


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