Work on an old waste transfer station in the Gravesend area of Brooklyn, New York was halted earlier this month when asbestos was discovered at the site.
Critics of the project say this isn’t the first time toxic materials have been discovered at the site and released into the environment, and they remain concerned about its impact on the neighborhood.
According to an account published in Brooklyn Daily, the waste transfer station was once home to a city garbage incinerator that operated without a permit for 40 years.
Most neighbors oppose the conversion of the site into a waste transfer station, and the discovery of asbestos and other hazardous materials has caused quite a ruckus among those who believe that Gravesend has shouldered enough responsibility for the borough’s trash.
“This has been a boondoggle from day one,” said Ida Sanoff, executive director of the Natural Resources Protective Association. “So now, this is not the first, or second, or third issue, this is just one big problem over and over again. If this is what we’re going through now, I shudder to think of what it will be like once it’s open.”
Though the city halted work at the site as soon as asbestos was discovered, officials don’t believe the asbestos should be of concern to locals. They maintain that the area where the asbestos was found is far removed from most homes and that they don’t expect any more of the material to be unearthed.
“The area where the contamination was found was basically an abandoned area,” said city spokesperson, Shavone Williams. “It’s on the construction site but it’s slightly outside of the waste transfer station.
And once that area is done, it’s going to be surfaced with asphalt. We’re being very careful, we checked it, it’s contained.”
But locals aren’t convinced that that’s the case, especially since the project doesn’t have a great track record. Earlier this year, the contractor at the site released contaminated muck into the water and failed to halt the project to address the issue.
Assemblyman William Colton notes that the city has been unable to produce a Certificate of Closure for the site, mandated by the federal EPA to verify that the city has properly disposed of all of the old incinerator’s toxins.
Now, the buried asbestos that workers have uncovered is proof that there’s more going on than the Department of Sanitation is letting on, said Colton in a statement to the press.
“Now they’re finding asbestos there, which tells us that pieces of that incinerator were not properly disposed of,” added Colton. “And maybe that’s why we don’t have that Certificate of Closure because they never actually did dispose of it. There’s usually a method to the madness — they don’t just forget.”
In the meantime, locals are being advised to steer clear of the site and an abatement professional is being called in to remove the asbestos duct.