Closed Fresh Kills Taking Toll on NYC

New York -- Officials recently have acknowledged that all six of New York City's truck-to-rail and truck-to-barge projects that are needed to collect and export nearly 24 million pounds of household trash per day either have been indefinitely delayed or stopped.

The city has tried to find more places for its trash since Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill closed last year. Next month, city officials will select a consultant to spend 18 months working with the Sanitation Department to set up a 10-year implementation strategy. However, the city's timetable calls for officals to establish a contract to build a trash-handling plant by that time.

Meantime, the city is exporting trash by truck to landfills and incinerators further away, at a great cost to taxpayers. The city is spending nearly 50 percent more to export its trash than it did to dispose of waste at Fresh Kills -- $63 per ton, compared with Fresh Kill's $43 per ton, according to the city's Independent Budget Office.

City officials do have the option of re-opening Fresh Kills, which still may have 20 to 30 years of landfill life left, according to some estimates. Or, officials must quickly coming up with another disposal plan.

Also of concern in New York are Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to temporarily cut the city's recycling programs to save $56 million, and the rebidding of more than 15 waste hauler contracts, which are expected to increase costs.