Challenge to Controversial 91st Street Waste Transfer Station Dismissed

By Ben Fractenberg on December 29, 2011 6:24pm 

UPPER EAST SIDE — A state appeals court Thursday dismissed a lawsuit looking to block the city's controversial proposed $125 million East 91st Marine Waste Transfer Station — the third legal challenge to the plan that has been tossed out.

The proposed waste transfer station, which could handle 4,290 tons of garbage a day, has long drawn fire from neighbors concerned dozens of garbage trucks rattle through the area every hour and hazardous waste storage next to a residential neighborhood and park.

The suit, brought by Upper East Side group Gracie Point Community Council, alleged that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation did not adhere to its own regulations when it granted the city a permit to construct the station in 2006.

“This is the third major victory for this important project — and it again affirms the well-considered and environmentally sound approach the City took in developing plans for the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station,” said Jane Gordon, a Senior Counsel in the New York City Law Department’s Appeals Division, who handled the appellate case.  “We are very pleased the Court agrees that this latest challenge lacks merit.”

The City Law Department said they previously defended two other legal challenges against the station by community leaders and advocates.

Gracie Point alleged the station's permit should have been denied by the NYSDEC because the facility is a risk to public health.

"The [suit] asserts that NYSDEC has the power and the duty to ensure that transfer stations not harm public health, safety and welfare and it has the power to deny proposed permits for a transfer station when it would be harmful," the group said on its website.

"Also, it asserts that the proposed East 91st Street transfer station is not necessary because reasonable, existing and operating alternatives exist. The petition requests that the four requested permits, besides the tidal wetlands permit, be annulled or enjoined."

The law department counters that the station was approved by the City Council, will not be hazardous and will reduce traffic in the city.

"That plan, which largely replaces the City’s existing truck-based waste export system with a system that uses barges and railways to export waste in sealed shipping containers, resulting in a vast decrease in truck traffic on City streets, was approved by the City Council by a vote of 44-5 on July 19, 2006," the law department said in an email.

Gracie Point did not return an immediate request for comment.

It is not clear whether they will appeal the ruling.

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