- Cleanup North Brooklyn (CNB), a community organization of residents and business owners, is calling out a private transfer station operated by Brooklyn Transfer LLC in New York as hazardous to the residents living in close proximity to it.
- In a newly released report entitled "Profits Before Safety," the group lists more than 1,200 alleged violations that were observed during a consecutive six-day period in May. Issues include outdoor idling, blocking sidewalks or street traffic, excessive noise levels (recorded by an industrial hygienist), leachate sprayed into storm drains, noxious odors and more. One video from May 24 also shows employees removing a city parking sign outside the facility entrance. Brooklyn Transfer has refuted the report's overall claims, as detailed below.
- CNB members recently held a rally in front of the facility declaring it "toxic and dangerous." They have called for permit conditions to be enforced by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Brooklyn Transfer LLC, and affiliated hauler Five Star Carting, have been popular targets for community groups and labor advocates in support of commercial waste franchising. After testifying about unsafe working conditions at a City Council hearing last year, two Five Star employees said they were fired, though the company later claimed this was a misunderstanding. DSNY has continued to use the transfer station for refuse disposal and recently selected it for a $8.2 million organic waste contract.
"This report raises important community concerns about the operation of this facility, and we are carefully reviewing the report to determine what, if any, action is necessary at this time," wrote DSNY spokesperson Belinda Mager in an emailed statement. "This year, the Department of Sanitation has already conducted nearly 60 full inspections, and nearly 70 ‘drive-by’ inspections of the facility. Additionally, we investigated complaints from 311 that fell under DSNY jurisdiction. We encourage members of the community to report violations as they occur so inspectors can respond and take appropriate action."
Nino Tristiani, president of Brooklyn Transfer LLC, called CNB's report "inaccurate in nearly every respect" in an e-mailed statement to Waste Dive. Tristiani said the facility's permit was recently renewed for a five-year term and no violations have been received in more than a year. He also noted that the report's authors did not reach out to the company, or city and state regulatory agencies, for review or comment.
"Brooklyn Transfer is a properly licensed and permitted facility, with multiple inspections daily of its operations, facility condition, equipment, odors and personnel by trained inspectors," wrote Tristiani. "Like our colleagues elsewhere around the city that operate similar facilities, we strive to be good operators, good neighbors and good stewards of the environment as we perform essential services for the city. Unfortunately, the city’s land-use history, waste management plans, and current policies allow our operations – and many other industrial-type companies - to exist alongside non-industrial uses."
This tension between industrial and residential zoning is one of the core issues in the ongoing commercial waste reform debate as New York's population grows at a rapid pace. Once DSNY's long-delayed network of marine transfer stations is complete, some of this residential tonnage will be shifted away from private transfer stations but the commercial use will continue. While the city has come out in support of a potential franchise system that could include restrictions on the siting and usage of these facilities, the review process is expected to take years before any formal implementation.
In the meantime, this heated debate between community members, advocates and waste facility operators over environmental justice concerns can be expected to continue in similar fashion.