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Make waste haste - Transfer station application done

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A proposal to site a medical waste transfer station in Canarsie is moving forward.

On August 11, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) – which issues permits for such facilities – sent out a notification that the application by CMW Industries to operate the transfer station was complete.

The wording of the notice sparked concern and a flurry of activity among area activists. It said that the project “will not have a significant impact on the environment.” A negative declaration of environmental impact, the notice said, was “on file. A coordinated review was not performed.”

As much as 15 tons of regulated medical waste could be sent to the facility each day, according to the DEC notice, which also says that the facility could handle “an undefined quantity of conditionally exempt hazardous waste.”

Among the substances that could be “collected and stored for removal” are “formalin, formaldehyde and formaldehyde solutions, xylene, alcohol, mercury and waste mercury,” the notice says.

There are questions as to what some of the statements in the notice mean, said Joy Simmons, the legislative director for City Councilmember Charles Barron, who has vigorously opposed the siting of the facility at 100-02 Farragut Road, a building owned by CMW and now used for an ambulette service run by the company.

Simmons said that Barron’s office was in the process of reaching out to DEC to clarify some of the issues. “We are trying to get more information,” she said, particularly with respect to the negative declaration. “How was that determined?” is one question that needs to be answered, she said.

Simmons also told this paper that Barron’s office had set up a town hall meeting for the community “so everyone is on the same page.”

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Ave.

If the plan goes through, CMW, which is a licensed regulated medical waste transporter, would utilize approximately 1,500 square feet within the existing garage area of the building as a regulated medical waste transfer station. This would be the first such facility in Brooklyn. Currently, CMW transports the medical waste it collects to a facility in the Bronx.

Under this arrangement, medical waste brought to the property in cargo vans or box trucks would be stored inside a 40-foot tractor-trailer container, which would be taken away when filled. “The on-site storage of hazardous waste is limited to less than ten days,” according to the notice issued by DEC. The facility would be open for operation, according to the DEC notice, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“The bottom line, our concern is health,” stressed Mary Anne Sallustro, the president of the South Canarsie Civic Association (SCCA). “If it’s not inherently dangerous, if it can go into any neighborhood, why is it being put here?

“It’s a bad spot to put it in, with the dead-end streets and the train,” Sallustro went on. “We have the police station. We have the firehouse. There are all the stores along Rockaway Parkway and the streets are very narrow. And, there’s the food processing plant, and it’s a residential block, too. It belongs in an industrial area where there are no people.

“We want to know, of all five boroughs, of all the neighborhoods, why Canarsie?” Sallustro stressed.

Another issue is the number of trucks – “estimated at 17 a day” —mentioned in the project description distributed by DEC. Sallustro recalled that, at a prior meeting, the number of trucks had been estimated by the facility’s manager, Josh Knobloch, at one to two.

“How big are the trucks?” Sallustro wanted to know. “Are they being marked ‘hazardous waste?’”

While he could not be reached for comment for this article, CMW owner, Gershon Klein, has repeatedly contended that the facility would pose no risk to the surrounding neighborhood.

At a public hearing held earlier this year as part of the DEC permitting process, he had said, “It’s not impacting Canarsie. We’re not treating waste. It’s no different than if we had a grocery store and were getting boxes. I don’t believe it’s dangerous. It may be dangerous, but not any more dangerous than Brookdale Hospital.”

For more information on the Aug. 28 meeting, contact City Coucilmember Charles Barron’s office: (718) 649-9495.

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