Foul odors and pollution from diesel fuel emissions join illegal noise levels in the top complaints of a report recently released by Cleanup North Brooklyn, a citizen group claiming its videos show Brooklyn Transfer LLC violating environmental and other laws 200 times per day.
The report by Cleanup North Brooklyn, Profits before Safety, reportedly documents the many ways in which the local transfer station is breaking the law. The report states that the company violated regulatory code 1,262 times in plain sight during the period of May 23-28 of this year.
The study, which focuses on a community with approximately 50 residential buildings (better known as Bushwick) claims residents near Brooklyn Transfer LLC have endured illegal levels of noise, stench and diesel fuel emissions for 25 years. The need for this report emerged, they say, when residents and local business owners noticed an uptick in foul odors, noise and truck traffic, suggesting that this waste transfer station was being poorly run and was in violation state and city code.
While the facility had no official violations issued against it during the six-day time frame in May, the group says it found Brooklyn Transfer, which is affiliated with Five Star Carting Inc., violating local and state laws and regulations 1,261 times over six days or an average of 200 times per day. The report links to videos of open doors, trucks driving on sidewalks and idling trucks that the group says are proof that violations are being ignored and residents are suffering the consequences.
However, Brooklyn Transfer President Nino Tristani said in an email to Waste360 that those authoring the report are not qualified to do so and that the facility and employees operate safely and within the permit.
“We reject this report, as it was not conducted using industry standards nor was it authored by anyone with certified knowledge of the waste industry,” Tristani wrote.
The group making these claims, he says, does not have the authority, training or knowledge of the waste industry to issue such a report.
“They have no credibility and are in fact 'professional protesters' as stated on members’ Facebook profiles.”
According to the organization, its membership is made up of families, artists, small business owners and manufacturers pushing for environmental equality in North Brooklyn. The neighborhood, which has 50 residential buildings, formed the groups to add trash cans to its street corners, reduce the number of idling trucks and mitigate the impact of waste transfer stations and cement plants on the community.
Cleanup North Brooklyn report states that residents in the mostly Latino neighborhood have suffered illnesses, such as asthma and respiratory issues from odors and the sprays used to cover odors coming from the facility. Residents complain that the strong odors keep their children indoors instead of outside playing.
“It is not acceptable for a waste transfer station surrounded by residential buildings to violate the law 200 times per day and it is unconscionable that they are getting away with it,” said Jen Chantrtanapichate, Cleanup North Brooklyn organizer and resident in a press release. “Many of our elderly community members are in poor health and have lost family members to cancer. We have a lot of adults that have developed asthma and kids that have asthma. We deserve clean air and safe streets.”
Because of the environmental concerns, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) has joined the cause. The Environmental Justice Program of NYLPI provides community organizing and legal assistance to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that bear an unfair burden of environmental threats.
“Cleanup North Brooklyn’s groundbreaking report shows how powerful a small and diverse group of concerned citizens can be when they work together,” says Melissa Iachan, senior staff attorney, Environmental Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “NYLPI is proud to be working with such an active community organization as we move towards improved enforcement surrounding this troubling facility. We believe that this report provides more than enough of a basis for legal enforcement actions and look forward to working with relevant government agencies to respond to the community’s concerns.”
However, Tristani maintains that the facility is not a threat and the agencies are watching.
“Brooklyn Transfer has continuously earned an excellent rating from NYC regulators and all permits are in accordance with proper operational and safety procedures,” Tristani says. “Our permit was renewed in 2016 for a five-year term. Brooklyn Transfer continuously passes numerous daily inspections, which ensures the safe and efficient use of our equipment, facility conditions and personnel, including the safety of local residents and businesses in the area.”
Despite the denial, Cleanup North Brooklyn’s report demands the city take action on the waste transfer station. It calls on the city council to pass Intro 495a, legislation that would cap the amount of trash that can be sent to any one neighborhood in the city. They are also calling on Mayor de Blasio to use his recently announced Commercial Waste Zone policy to raise standards of these solid waste facilities, while reducing the number of facilities in their community.