This story is worth reporting again, because knowing how things go, it will be pushed back to the shadows and forgotten about. Royal Waste has been slowly poisoning nearby residents since they were given a go-ahead (BY WHO???) years ago to be placed smack in the middle of a residential area, near hundreds of homes with children and elderly, a NYCHA Senior Citizen Apartment building and Detective Kieth Williams Park, where familes, children and young play.CAN you imagine this to be allowed in FOREST HILLS, yet I have NOT heard one word from Queens BP Melinda Katz or her predecessor Helen Marshal and not one word from the long time elected officials, Leroy Comrie, who was around when this was given the go-ahead. SPEAK COMRIE, SPEAK. AND where are you media folks from THE DAILY NEWS or what about you COLOR OF COMMUNITY, this should be the top story on your front page.
Royal Waste with it’s awful stench, which I have smelled riding my bike near all the homes by it on 93rd this past summer, all the noise with 24/7 trucks and all the toxins and pollutants being put in the air and in the ground. This place should have never been placed in such close proximity to residents. It belongs in an industrial area from from residents. SHAME on those elected officials who signed off on this over a decade ago. WHO ARE YOU?
Kudos though to Councilman Miller for helping to shine a spotlight on this Jamaica version of Flint Michigan. ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM.
From Queens Press:
Something stinks in Jamaica—literally.
Residents living near Liberty Avenue have long been complaining that a garbage processing plant operated by Royal Waste Services Inc. has damaged their quality of life.
The plant, which is located on 168-56 Douglas Ave., and two other plants in the Bronx and Brooklyn process three-quarters of the city’s trash. Homeowners near the site have said that the plant produces unbearable smells, its trucks are loud and tear up streets in the community and air pollution from the site is in close proximity to a heavily utilized park.
Neighbors of the plant have called on Royal Waste to be a better neighbor and we agree with them. There’s no good reason why residents should be forced to keep their windows shut during the summer, when the smells from the plant worsen, or be chased away from a local park due to bad odors.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that he wants to transition waste disposal to a more manageable “zoned system” in which neighborhoods would only handle their own trash. A good place to start would be Jamaica, where one Liberty Avenue resident told the Press of Southeast Queens that the smell from Royal Waste often keeps her awake at night.
Obviously, a city as large as New York City will produce a significant amount of garbage and that trash must be processed somewhere. But a single community should not be bearing the brunt of it. If Royal Waste continues to process garbage in Southeast Queens, it should find a way to curb the stench plaguing its neighbors. If not, then the city needs to move forward with a plan to evenly dispose of trash throughout the five boroughs, instead of polluting communities of color.
From Queens Chronicle:
March seeks worker, environmental rights
Douglas Avenue in Jamaica hosts a number of trash-related operations
Posted: Thursday, March 2, 2017 10:30 am
Jamaica Industrial Park’s evolving landscape of waste transfer stations along Douglas Avenue in Jamaica is frustrating local residents and safety workers through its daily sanitation routine.
In the past, “if you came within a mile of this place here, all you would smell is Wonder Bread, because this was the Wonder Bread factory, but now, all you smell is garbage,” Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) told a group on Liberty Avenue last Saturday.
Miller and about 40 people upset with the operations first gathered near Det. Keith L. Williams Park, which often is downwind from the numerous trash haulers and transfer stations one block north on both sides of Douglas Avenue. Miller said it is an ongoing fight for the workers at and the residents around the trash operations.
“It’s an issue of waste transfer equity,” said Miller, who is a co-sponsor of Intro 495-A, a bill to reduce permitted capacity at waste transfer stations in overburdened districts.
The issue of noxious odors, high-volume truck traffic, damaged roads and waste transfer stations are depleting the quality of life for residents including many young children.
“There is no reason why three of four communities in the City of New York are responsible for 75 percent of the garbage,” said Miller.
“Southeast will continue to do its fair share to make this city better, but we will not do more than our fair share,” said Miller. “This is a community of home ownership and the two cannot mutually exist to the point where it continues to grow.”
Miller’s talk was followed with a prayer led by the Rev. Andrew Wilkes of the Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York.
Wilkes emphasized environmental, ecological and workers’ safety just a few hundred yards from Royal Waste, which is in close proximity to residential homes and the site of truck-damaged streets. Part of the group eventually marched to and gathered on Douglas near the company’s premises.
Royal officials could not be reached for comment.
The street damage from high truck traffic has left Douglas Avenue plagued with leachate — contaminated water that has passed through matter or suspended solids. That has caused Douglas Avenue to reek with a foul odor.
Carl Orlando, a worker with Safety Group, a construction safety company, said that Douglas Avenue used to be a “normal street,” but that changed due to high truck traffic.
“I worked for seven different companies in the last four years and I’ve never been paid overtime, and the trucks are not safe,” Orlando said.
Miller said workers in the industry, many of them immigrants, tell him and his staff of serious job-related injuries that they suffer. In 2009, three workers from a sewage company hired by Royal were killed when they were overcome by fumes while clearing a drain.
“I do appreciate them speaking about reducing truck traffic, but I want to see mandatory safety training,” Orlando said.
Adjacent to Royal, Richard Brown, an auto body shop manager, said he also wishes the streets would be fixed.
“I don’t know about the dump — but I know the road is terrible,” Brown said.
“I park my personal car around six blocks [over]; I never bring my personal car on this block,” he added.
From Queens Press:
BY TRONE DOWD
The stench coming from a garbage processing plant controlled by Royal Waste has all but destroyed the quality of life for some residents along Liberty Avenue in Jamaica, inciting action from upset elected officials, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and congregants of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral.
Last Saturday, those who have firsthand experience living next to one of three processing plants stood united for a “pray-in” at Detective Keith L. Williams Park, calling out Royal Waste for its disregard for the nearby residential area. According to residents, the company has been a consistently bad neighbor to this quiet portion of Jamaica, thanks to unbearable odors that worsen during the summer, loud trucks that have been tearing up local roadways and air pollution in dangerous proximity to the busy park.
The plant, located 168-56 Douglas Ave., is one of three waste transfer stations in the five boroughs. The Jamaica plant, together with the other two located in North Brooklyn and South Bronx, process three-quarters of the city’s trash. This accounts for 745 tons per day, equivalent to 270,000 tons a year, all coincidentally in communities of color.
A Jamaica resident who goes by the name of Lancaster moved into the neighborhood five years ago. He told the Press of Southeast Queens that he is often regretful that he purchased a house in this part of Jamaica due to the smell that gets pushed towards nearby homes.
“I wish I would have known,” Lancaster said.
He explained that the stench is not always present, as evident when he was mulling over the purchase. Impressed by the neighborhood’s aesthetics and closeness to both a park and school, the effect that the disposal has on the air was a complete surprise to him.
“When I have barbecues, I have to pray that the smell isn’t too bad,” Lancaster said.
“Imagine trying to explain that to guests.”
Lancaster said that he and many other residents are forced to keep all of their windows closed to avoid the stench from seeping into their homes.
Crystal Ervin, a resident and environmental justice advocate, said that she has been awakened in the middle of the night by the stench.
“I have been fighting this battle for my South Jamaica neighborhood for 17 years,” she said. “It’s a constant fight. This impacts so many people and we need the city to ensure the physical and environmental safety of the community. It’s not just the stench, it’s our health at stake.”
The fight to make garbage distribution more equitable throughout the five boroughs has raged on for years.
During a tour of the nearby facility organized by Greater Allen A.M.E.’s Rev. Andrew Wilkes, toxic runoff known as “leachate” could be seen pooling up on the grounds near the five-block industrial stretch. Protesters and environmental activists from Brooklyn, Southeast Queens and the Bronx complained throughout the tour, called the stench unbearable and reiterated that the odor only worsens in the summer.
“This is not simply an issue of environmental justice, it has political dimensions,” Wilkes said. “This has moral and spiritual underpinnings. We should be able to enjoy an environment without having to worry about our lungs being polluted. We want to uplift any and all solutions to this problem.”
City leaders have been looking into measures to smoothly transition away from overburdening small communities with a majority of the city’s garbage. In 2014, legislation was introduced by the City Council to enforce garbage processing equity. Councilmen Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), Danny Dromm (D-Jaskson Heights), Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) and I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) all co-sponsored the action.
“One community should not be responsible for handling such a large proportion of the city’s waste,” Miller said. “Residents in Southeast Queens continue to face unsafe and unhealthy conditions because of the many waste transfer stations near our parks, homes and schools, and we need a fair share policy that relieves us of this burden.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has also said that he wants to transition waste disposal to a more manageable zone system, making neighborhoods handle their own trash and not others. He has not made any effort to make this a reality.
There have been concerns about the safety of sanitation workers at the site for about a decade. In 2009, three workers with the S. Dahan Sewer Specialist company were killed by noxious fumes at the Jamaica waste plant after being hired by Royal to unclog a pipe at the bottom of the drywell.
“These businesses also don’t follow the labor practices that are necessary to keep these workers safe or give them the opportunity to support their families with fair wages,” Miller said.
Despite these incidents, however, Royal says that it has the community’s interests in mind every step of the way. In fact, Royal Vice President Mike Reaki responded to claims that the stench has lowered the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Royal Waste is from and for the community,” Reaki said. “Our owners and our staff are also from this community. Ninety-five percent of our staff live locally in the community. We provide high paying, high quality union jobs with full benefits and we often hire New Yorkers who face barriers to employment. Royal Waste is tremendously invested in the well-being and vitality of the community that we call home. We operate a facility according to all regulations set forth by city, state and federal regulators. We pride ourselves on the continuous raising and improving our safety and environmental standards.”
From Queens Times Ledger:
Queens leaders hold a ‘pray in’ at Jamaica dump
Jamaica leaders held a ”pray in” at a notorious dump site in southeast Queens.
Protesters gathered outside 173rd Street and Liberty Avenue Saturday in front of the waste transfer station owned by Royal Waste Services before taking a tour of the grounds. The dump site is directly across the street from a park and residential homes.
The demonstrators claimed it was unfair that they were subjected to terrible smells and unclean air. They said low-income communities of color bear the burden of housing dumps and that workers at Royal Waste, most of whom live in the community, are treated unfairly.
The privately held company handles residential and commercial trash and has a recycling operation.
Legislation has been introduced that would cap the amount of trash that can be processed in one community. The de Blasio administration is transitioning New York to a zone system for commercial waste. Royal Waste is no stranger to controversy. Sanitation workers throughout the years have accused the company of labor abuses and between 2006 and 2009 four workers died on the Jamaica Royal Waste site.
Mike Reali, vice president of Royal Waste Services,s aid the owners and staff at the dump are from the community and they bring high paying union jobs with benefits to Jamaica residents.
“Royal Waste is tremendously invested in the well-being and vitality of the community we call home,” he said. “We operate a facility according to all regulations set forth by city, state and federal regulators. We pride ourselves on continuously raising and improving our safety and environmental standards.”
A bus filled with parishioners from the Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral of New York and community members arrived at the site along with Rev. Andrew Wilkes and Councilman Daneek Miller (D- St. Albans).
The protestors held hands in a prayer circle where Wilkes said a prayer for the community.
“Environmental racism pollutes God’s creation while burdening New York City’s communities of color with a disproportionate amount of trash,” he said. “The issue is an urgent matter of pastoral care. Congregates of Allen Cathedral often lament the danger of their children encountering fumes from the commercial waste tucks parked next to schools, homes and playgrounds.”
Eddie Bautista, executive director at New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said lower income neighborhoods in the South Bronx, North Brooklyn and southeast Queens are being exposed to an overwhelming amount of fumes and it is up to them to unite and make sure the dump companies change.
“When it comes to commercial waste, we can’t have 200 companies converging on three or four communities,” he said. “We need to have these companies transform and create a new system, a system where they have to compete with each other not just for who makes the most money picking up the garbage, but which company treats the community and their workers the best. We don’t have to get the low hanging fruit anymore, those days are behind us. This is a city that talks a lot about equity, justice. We know now that the fight in DC is going to be a long one. None of us are afraid of long and hard fights, especially the African-American community that knows about long and hard fights.”
Miller and Wilkes led a tour of the grounds and the smell immediately overwhelmed the group. Residents were quick to remind everyone that in the summer that was the smell residents woke up to on a daily basis.
“This city and my colleagues talk a lot about justice and equity,” Miller said. “There is no reason why three, four communities in New York are responsible for 75 percent of the garbage. We just don’t want all the bad and negative things to be dropped in our community. Today we’re talking about environmental justice.