Gentile Suggests Making Waste Transfer Station A Superfund Site

Gentile Suggests Making Waste Transfer Station A Superfund Site
waste transfer station

At a forum for candidates seeking the vacant 11th Congressional District seat in the May 5 special election last week, Councilman Vincent Gentile vowed that, if elected, he would halt construction on the controversial Gravesend Bay Waste Transfer Station and consider turning area into a Superfund site.

“When I am elected to Congress on May 5th, I will immediately push to put this project on pause. Once the project is halted, I will work together with the community to explore declaring this area a federal Superfund site,” Gentile said at the April 23 event on the South Shore of Staten Island, according to his spokesperson Justin Brannan.

The topic came up in a discussion about the cleanup of Staten Island’s Great Kills Park, Brannan said. (Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, who is running on the Republican ticket, did not attend the event.)

Gentile, who voted in favor of building the waste transfer station in City Council in 2006, has said he was not aware of the dangerous chemicals in the area at the time, and that he would have voted against the plan with that knowledge.

The councilman restated his position on the trash facility at last week’s forum, emphasizing that his main concern is with the high concentrations of toxic chemicals and carcinogens — including mercury, chlordane, and Mirex — found in underwater sediment.

“As I’ve said before, while we all must share the responsibility of the 11,000 tons of waste New Yorkers produce each day, it must be done responsibly…While the first stages of construction are underway, further construction will necessitate stirring up these extremely dangerous and deadly chemicals and reintroducing them into the local environment,” said Gentile

Superfunds, one of the government’s more complicated environmental cleanup programs, identify the polluters and force them to pay for the cleanup. In this case, since New York City is the polluter, the federal government would presumably eat the cleanup costs.

While Superfunds are widely associated with a decline in property values, studies show that it is not always the case, and sometimes Superfunds are linked to a spike in development. An example of this occurred when the Gowanus Canal was declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] in 2010. Many, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, feared the canal’s Superfund status would harm the development and real estate prices in the already underdeveloped neighborhood. But despite the fact that the cleanup is moving at an impossibly sluggish pace, development in Gowanus has only soared since 2010, reports the New York Times.

On the other hand, staving off development is not exactly a downside for many Southern Brooklynites who choose to reside in Bensonhurst and Bath Beach for affordable rents and a more livable quality of life.

What do you think? Is turning the area around the Gravesend Bay Waste Transfer Station into a Superfund site a good idea?

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