Last year over my winter holiday break from school, I visited a landfill in Pennsylvania where New York City’s trash ends up.
This may not sound like the most exciting—or picturesque, traditional, or pleasant—place to spend one’s holiday, and is certainly not as glamorous as a ski town or beach where some of my other classmates went, but I wanted to experience what the residents of the Yorkville will experience if the East 91st Marine Transfer Station is built.
The Keystone Sanitary Landfill experiences a constant parade of garbage trucks pulling into and out of the facility. Every minute a truck roars in spewing diesel exhaust. The landfill here in Dunmore, Pennsylvania is in an industrial neighborhood. The trucks exit off Interstate 81 and enter the landfill where they then empty the trash they are carrying and start the return trip. Seagulls and hawks circle constantly, the air quality is poor from the diesel exhaust and stench of garbage, and it is loud as the trucks accelerate or break.
Now picture this constant stream of trucks in a residential neighborhood, crossing a park where 400,000 children play. Picture 100,000 children crossing the entrance of the landfill where trucks are entering and leaving. Now picture those same trucks on one of the narrowest streets in the most densely populated part of Manhattan. It is inconceivable that a planner would put a dump there – yet that is exactly what New York City is doing with the East 91st Marine Transfer Station.
I could share another thousand or so words on issues around the diesel fumes and their health effects, the dump being in a flood zone, or that it sites in front of a public housing project. Instead spend the few minutes and watch my report. And ask yourself, “ Do we want trucks like these turning at the same crosswalk used 100,000 children every year?” Then ask yourself, if in NYC, garbage trucks already account for the highest percentage of pedestrian accidents with vehicles , “Does it make planning sense to place a dump here? Will the City only recognize the cost when a child or their caretaker gets hurt or worse?”