Kingsland Ave. and Newtown Creek, Brooklyn, NY


incinerator, garbage, waste, NYCDOS, CHHNP

The NYC Dept of Sanitation owns the property that previously hosted the Greenpoint Incinerator.  The Greenpoint Incinerator, which began operations in 1958 and burned its last load of New York City garbage in 1994, was demolished in 2002.
Dirtiest of the Dirty
A 1990 EPA study of the local impacts of 103 different municipal garbage, hospital waste, and sewage sludge incinerators ranked the Greenpoint Incinerator third on the list for dioxin emissions and fourth for lead.  The report found that because of poor combustion efficiency, insufficient pollution controls, and a low stack height the negative environmental impacts from the Greenpoint incinerator, which burned 554 tons per day,  actually exceeded several 3,000 ton per day waste incinerators.  Further contributing to the environmental toll wrought by the Greenpoint Incinerator, a loophole allowed the toxic ash that remained after burning trash to be buried in the Fresh Kills landfill along with regular household waste.[2] 

Battle to Burn
Slated for expansion in 1992 in an effort to address a percived shortage of landfill space, the Greenpoint Incinerator was instead shuttered just two years later.  The shut down was initially proposed as a compromise intended to garner support for the construction of a new 3,000 ton per day incinerator to be sited in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.[3]  The prolonged battle over the Navy Yard incinerator pitted the Dinkin's administration, NYC Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, and the incinerator industry against community groups, environmental advocates and the former City Comptroller, Elizabeth Holtzman, who advocated an end to all waste incineration in the City.[4]  Ultimately those pushing for an end to incineration prevailed; the Navy Yard incinerator was never built and the Greenpoint Incinerator ceased operating.  Today, there are no incinerators in New York City, however, the City still burns its waste.  Approximately sixty percent of Manhattan's waste is incinerated at the Essex County Resource Recovery Facility located in Newark, NJ. 

Controversial to the End
Even after it was shuttered, the Greenpoint Incinerator remained a controversial subject.  In 2002, the Department of Sanitation announced plans to demolish the facility and the local Community Board protested.  Worried about the possible release of asbestos, lead, and dioxins  during demolition and the possibility of future noxious uses, such as an expansion of the Greenpoint Marine Transfer Station (a disused waste handling facility), the community fought to preserve the decommissioned incinerator as an industrial relic with hopes for an eventual park.[5]  The Department of Sanitation decided to proceed with the demolition  despite the community's concerns.  The site, now cleared of any vestiges of its former use, hosts temporary buildings, heavy equipment, and a random assortment of construction materials.
  1.  "Body".  <>.  Accessed 9/21/2010.
  2.  No Title.  <>.  Accessed on 9/21/2010.  Referencing 1) EPA, NYS DEC, & NJ DEP.  "Incineration 2000: A Joint Study of Impacts in the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Region".  10/14/1990 2) City of NY Office of Comptroller.  "Burn, Baby, Burn: How to Dispose of Garbage by Polluting Land, Sea and Air at Enormous Cost". p 50-54.  January 1992.
  3. NY Times.  8/3/1992. "Holtzman Criticizes Plan for Incinerators"
  4. NY Times.  8/19/1992.  "Incinerator Plan Delicate For Dinkins and Vallone".
  5. Daily News.  4/4/2001.  "Greenpoint Backs Burner Board 1 Fights Dismantling of Shutdown Incinerator".

Newtown Creek Alliance



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