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Activists: Trash this Williamsburg waste station! - Brooklyn Paper

Activists: Trash this Williamsburg waste station!

Dirty deeds: Community members say the Brooklyn Transfer Station on Thames Street is causing quality of life and safety hazards in their neighborhood, which they claim is unfairly burdened with the city’s garbage haul.
Community News Group / Allegra Hobbs

They’re raising a stink!

The city should shut a smelly Williamsburg waste transfer station that is putting both neighbors’ and workers’ health at risk with its noxious fumes, say residents and local pols who gathered Monday to rally against the facility.

“These workers are mistreated, our community is mistreated, and the only way to make it right is to shut down the dump,” said Teg Sethi, a member of newly-formed neighborhood coalition Cleanup North Brooklyn, which organized the meeting alongside activist group Transform Don’t Trash.

The putrid smells wafting from the Brooklyn Transfer waste station on Thames Street between Grattan and Porter streets — and the fumes from its idling trucks — leave neighbors gasping for air, said the manager of a nearby building on Grattan Street.

“Your address should not be a predictor of your health — period,” said Seble Tareke Williams, who added that effluvium inflames her kids’ respiratory problem.

The station — which takes in and ships off residential trash handled by the Department of Sanitation as well as commercial trash from private companies — has accumulated dozens of 311 complaints over the past year for sanitation and quality of life issues including gross smells, loud noises, and rodents, according to city records.

A former worker also claims the facility is a danger to employees, too — a guy named Sydney showed his mangled finger, claiming he almost lost it due to lack of proper training and then was not sufficiently compensated.

The commercial side of the facility is operated by Five Star Carting, which came under fire earlier this year when it fired, then swiftly rehired, two workers who testified before Council on alleged dangerous working conditions and low pay at the company.

A spokesperson for the company denied all the allegations, but offered no rebuttal.

“The allegations made by Transform Don’t Trash against Brooklyn Transfer are false and misleading,” said Ara Chekmayan.

But the Thames Street trash center is only part of a larger issue in the area, said locals — Williamsburg and Greenpoint are saddled with 15 waste transfer stations, burying them under nearly a third of the 35,000-plus tons of garbage the city produces every year.

Councilmen Steve Levin (D-Greenpoint) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Bushwick) now plan on reviving a bill they introduced last year seeking to even the problem out by reducing the volume of trash already overburdened stations handle by 18 percent, and by limiting the amount of citywide waste any one community has to shoulder to 5 percent.

The bill never got past the Council’s sanitation committee because the sanitation department claimed the change would make it impossible to handle all of the city’s waste. But the pols now argue it would kick in just as a marine waste transfer station — which would only deal with residential trash — opens in Gowanus next year, making it easier to spread the stench.

But even if the bill passes this time — a majority of Council members are now on board, Reynoso claims, though Mayor DeBlasio has voiced his opposition in the past — Brooklyn Transfer must still be held accountable for its dirty deeds and the city should dump the dump, he said.

“Brooklyn Transfer is the worst of the worst,” he said.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.

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