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Waste war diary - Transfer station foes battle on

Opponents of a proposed waste transfer station in Gravesend Bay who argue that the facility will cause immeasurable damage to the local environment are keeping their legal options on the table, a state lawmaker reported.

The Southwest Marine Transfer Station, planned for 1824 Shore Parkway, is one of several waste transfer facilities planned citywide as part of the Department of Sanitation’s (DOS) Solid Waste Management Plan.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has approved the overall plan, as has the City Council, but thanks to the community’s efforts to thwart the plan, it is the only facility citywide that has yet to be green-lighted, said Assemblymember William Colton.

Colton, speaking at last week’s Concerned Citizens of Bensonhurst meeting, gave an update on the fight to stop the project.

The matter is currently being aired before DEC administrative law judge Edward Buhrmaster.

Colton reported that after an initial hearing in January, in which Buhrmaster allowed environmental experts and officials on both sides of the issue to testify, he ordered opponents along with the DOS to submit briefs by July 25.

The judge reviewed them within a week or so, and at the beginning of August, issued a memorandum requiring the DOS to provide additional supporting information on a number of questions, Colton said.

Colton said the judge also wanted documentation from the DOS stating that when the agency demolished a former incinerator on the site, it was properly sealed and vapor contaminants were no longer seeping into the bay and the air.

“The DOS said they complied, but couldn’t find the paperwork,” said Colton. “We took the position [that] because there was no paperwork we believe contaminants could leak out even now and when it is dredged for the transfer station.”

Colton said that while this issue was being hashed out, the DOS significantly amended their permits to construct and operate the transfer station.

This included significant restrictions on the dredging, including the placement of an environmental monitor on the scene when dredging of the bay takes place.

Additionally, the DOS would have core testing of the bay that the DEC could examine before the dredging would commence.

“This is a step in the right direction, but the problem was it was not enough. We say the test should happen before the permit,” said Colton.

Colton said a third issue that remains unresolved is that the new permits also indicate that parts of the transfer site would be utilized as accessory parking for the those working on Coney Island development projects once the area is rezoned.

Parking around that site was never part of the original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), contended Colton.

Ultimately the judge set up a new schedule for both sides to submit more briefs. The DOS has to submit its briefs by Sept. 26 and opponents of the plan have until Oct. 20 for counter paperwork.

After papers are submitted, the judge believes he will have enough evidence to render a decision on how the matter will proceed.

Colton vowed, however, that if a ruling goes against the community, he is prepared to take the matter to the state Supreme Court.

DOS spokesperson Kathy Dawkins responded that the agency is seeking a permit from the (DEC) to construct and operate the proposed Southwest Brooklyn Converted Marine Transfer Station.

“The DEC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) asked us to comment on the brief submitted by the opposition and we will do so shortly,” said Dawkins.

“It will then be up to the ALJ to determine if any of the issues raised by the opposition requires adjudication. We are confident that the ALJ will rule in our favor. The timeframe is up to the ALJ.”

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