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Residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side are fuming over the Marine Transfer Station that is being planned to transport garbage in and out of a location at East 91st St. Opponents of the facility are mainly concerned about the station’s proximity to a local community hub where thousands of children play. According to protesters, the new transfer station will create negative health impacts like increased asthma risks and other respiratory issues in addition to noise, odors, harm to the river and increased traffic in the neighborhood. Despite the city’s refusal to stop the project, parents and concerned community groups are still battling the resurrected 1930s transfer station, which will be seeing 5,280 tons of garbage per day if all goes according to plan.

residents for sane trash solutions, south Bronx, sustainable south Bronx, marine transfer station, Christine Quinn, upper east side, health effects of trash, asphalt green
Image via CUNY

Residents for SaneTrash Solutions commissioned a health report to determine what impact the two acre, ten story Marine Transfer Station will have on the neighborhood’s children. The report found that over 30,000 children will be exposed because they attend programs at the Asphalt Green athletic complex, which is a community recreation center adjacent to the transfer station. The report also found that these same children will be at an increased risk of permanent lung damage which can lead to long-term respiratory health effects, increased visits to the emergency room, and potential carcinogenic ramifications from trucks’ diesel fumes.

New York City officials stand on the opposite side of the issue and stress the need to make trash distribution equal throughout the city and not the sole duty of poor and lower-income neighborhoods that have shouldered the city’s waste removal responsibilities for decades. “We need to recognize that every neighborhood needs to do its fair share in dealing with New York City’s garbage,” says City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “We also need to realize that to get less trucks on the street we need to utilize the river and barges and Marine Transfer station.”

Despite the city’s commendable resolve to keep environmental injustices in poorer communities to a minimum, namely through the planned transfer station project, their reasonings still don’t sit well with the local East 91st street community. Trash inequity is a long debated issue. “The only reason the city wants to make the 91st Street marine transfer station functional again was because it was part of a deal, passed in 2006, that mandated that each borough take responsibility for its own garbage,” writes Sydney Brownstone for the Village Voice. Manhattan currently does not have a waste transfer station, leaving the South Bronx and South Williamsburg, Brooklyn bearing the bulk of the city’s overall waste transfers.

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