Jamaica has it’s own Flint, Michigan story, except, NO ONE is talking about it.
In communities of color like Jamaica & Southeast Queens, babies, children, elderly and the rest of the folks who live there have been slowly poisoned for years and decades by waste transfer stations like Royal Waste at 16856 Douglas Ave, which sits right in the downtown area, in back and front of hundreds of houses/apartments, including a NYCHA Senior Citizen Apartment Building and directly across the street from Detective Keith Williams Park, YET, with rare occasions, the local elected officials like Congressman Meeks, Senator Comrie, Councilman Miller, Councilman Wills, Assembly Member Hyndman and past local elected officials and candidates like new Councilman Vanel rarely if ever bring up how it’s residents that these folks serve are culprits in environmental racism by allowing this deplorable action to continue and NOT SPEAKING OUT. Who knows what the long term health effects will be, including forms of cancer. We already know that Jamaica has one of the highest rates of asthma.
A bike ride on 93rd Avenue off of 170th Street heading east, one will find countless homes and small apartment buildings, which sits behind Royal Waste, whose only protection (if that) is the LIRR tracks. The stench alone is awful 24/7, plus the noise which comes from countless trucks backing up all day and night. One can only imagine the health effects of all those families that live there over the years, especially babies, young children, elderly and those with compromised immune systems. KATZ, COMRIE, MEEKS and all you other poor excuses for leaders, would you allow your children, your families to live directly in back of a poisonous waste station, where it should have been placed in an industrial area, where NO residents are nearby. Councilman Wills actually dismissed human life over Royal Waste, which he has received campaign donations (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/indicted-queens-councilman-slams-proposal-hurts-donor-article-1.2217629) and slammed a proposal that would cut down on the amount of transfer stations in certain area, citing “job cuts”, which 1) that is not true and 2) he never states how many jobs are filled by Jamaica and SE Queens residents.
This is one of the most exploitative actions by elected officials and city agencies to communities of color and lower economic neighborhoods and once and for all needs properly addressed and the people deserve answers, but THE PEOPLE need to start standing up and being vocal. So just where are the so-called church leaders on this issue that affects thousands of people of color. And where are Katz, Comrie, Meeks and all the others on a very important and hazardous issue that is NOT being addressed but actually being swept under the rug, because I guess people of color just do not matter, ain’t that right angry black Congressman Meeks, who a angrily voiced his concerns about the recent Charlotte shooting, but yet does not voice his concern about the community that he actually serves.
In-depth investigated reporting needs to be done on this issue, not a small little article hidden on page 17 of the Daily News, especially concerning that shady operation, Royal Waste, a horrible neighbor in Jamaica, which several years ago, an accident there killed three workers and put huge amount of poison in the air (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/nyregion/30plant.html?pagewanted=all). Not too mention their blantant illegal use of residential streets with their large noisy and polluting trucks.
It is time For ALL to come clean on this issue for once. Time for all to put pressure on elected officials to speak about this major issue, instead of all the false hype of how great Jamaica is, when those of us in the know, know the TRUTH & REALITY. If BLACK LIVES REALLY MATTER, then it is time to stand up and speak out on this environmental atrocity.
BUT Jamaica is not known for speaking out, even when people’s lives are in jeopardy AND that needs to change.
From The Daily News:
Advocates say poor Bronx, Brooklyn neighborhoods choked with garbage truck pollution
Poor neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn are choking on pollution from commercial trash trucks, advocates say in a new report.
The problem was worst in the South Bronx – where researchers counted up to 304 commercial trucks per hour at the busiest intersections.
Nearly half of those trucks, 45%, were commercial waste haulers – meaning one private trash truck passed every 24 seconds, according to the report set to be released Tuesday by the Transform Don’t Trash coalition.
At the most truck-clogged intersections in the area, levels of asthma-causing pollutants known as fine particulate matter were found to be up to seven times higher than the average for the ZIP code overall.
Some three quarters of the city’s garbage is funneled through transfer stations in a handful of neighborhoods in the South Bronx, north Brooklyn, and southeast Queens.
“We really do see a connection between the shocking number of commercial waste trucks on the streets and the terrible air quality in low-income communities,” said Priya Mulgaonkar of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, who wrote the report.
In industrial areas of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick clustered around Newtown Creek, the groups counted 203 trucks per hour at the busiest intersection, about 30% of them commercial waste trucks.
Pollutant levels were found to be up to five times higher at the busy street corners than the overall area.
In Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, the report also counted up to 243 trucks per hour and pollutant levels five times greater than normal.
The de Blasio administration is preparing to launch a new system where the city will be divided up into zones, and one private company will be chosen to collect trash from businesses in each zone.
The advocates say the city should make sure to design it in a way that will give some relief to the neighborhoods that have dealt with so much of the city’s trash for years.
“This is a really clear opportunity to lessen the burden on these communities that have played host to these toxic facilities and highways for too long,” Mulgaonkar said.
Private sanitation workers also measured pollution inside the cabs of their trucks for the report – and found the asthma-causing pollutants at levels seven times higher than the average outside air along their route.
The city could give preference to companies that plot routes using transfer stations more fairly around the city, or use less polluting trucks and move away from diesel fuel, the group says.
New York City must end environmental racism
As the media shines a bright light on the city of Flint, Michigan, and its lead-tainted water, too many signs are pointing toward another incident of environmental racism that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans vulnerable to the will and neglect of the powerful.
Looking at the disturbing tragedy in Flint from New York City, the most progressive city in the country, it is impossible to not take an honest look at our own cases of systemic environmental racism, whose victims are still seeking justice.
A few of these cases hit very close to home for me as a resident and representative of southeast Queens and the Rockaways.
In a city as large as New York, we create a large amount of waste, but about 80 percent of that waste is hauled to transfer stations in north Brooklyn, southeast Queens and the south Bronx, communities that are home to large minority populations. These transfer stations bring constant truck traffic with diesel particulate matter that contributes to asthma and lung cancer and can lead to heart disease and high mortality rates. There has to be a better and more equitable way to distribute this waste, and while the city is working toward cutting trash by 2030, our residents who are overburdened by pollutants deserve some relief well before that goal is reached.
In southeast Queens, those trucks do double the damage as they transport cargo to John F. Kennedy International Airport, adding to the never-ending barrage of air and noise pollution caused by the airport that diminishes the health and overall quality of life of residents on a daily basis.
In 2013, the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York released a study, “Keeping Track of New York City’s Children,” which showed that the strongest concentrations of asthma hospitalizations in children were in the South Bronx, north and central Brooklyn, and Jamaica and the Rockaways.
While the air quality of the city in general has drastically improved with the elimination of Heating Oil No. 6 and the phase out of No. 4, the Environmental Protection Agency’s air toxics data shows that many residents of New York City live in areas at elevated or highly elevated risk for cancer and non-cancer health effects, such as respiratory disease. This same data has shown that the risks are even higher in environmental justice communities throughout the city.
Residents of southeast Queens were also ignored for decades as they had to bail water out of their homes every time a drop of rain fell because the area lacked adequate sewer infrastructure. Thankfully, I worked with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd to secure $1.2 billion to plot a path to ending this systemic neglect, but it is a long road to full recovery.
The de Blasio administration has been making a concerted effort to clean up environmental issues across the city, but it is imperative that both the City Council and the administration ensure that the communities suffering from the highest risk get the most attention. In order to do that, we need more data in all aspects of environmental justice. This was the impetus for a Council hearing on Thursday, considering two bills that call on the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct an environmental justice study to identify and report on environmental factors and health consequences in environmental justice communities as well as requiring all city agencies to focus on measures to address and eliminate environmental injustice.
It is our job as elected representatives of this city to stand up and make progress to improve our environment for all New Yorkers, especially those who have been gasping for air and treading water for far too long.
Donovan Richards is a New York City Council member representing District 31, which covers Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and Far Rockaway in Queens.