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Study Claims East 91st Street Transfer Station Harms Kids' Health

YORKVILLE — The controversial East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station will drive droves of neighborhood kids to the hospital with respiratory ailments, claims a new study released Thursday by opponents.

And another opponent-backed study claims that the planned station impacts more minorities than other neighborhoods with similar garbage facilities.

The health study — commissioned by Residents for Sane Trash Solutions — claims that garbage truck emissions associated with the planned East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station will prompt up to an 8 percent uptick in pediatric hospitalizations.

The report — assembled by Daniel Gutman, environmental planner, and Dr. Edward Eden, division chief of pulmonary, critical care medicine at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital — also said that an increase in particles associated with truck exhaust amplify asthma and cancer risks.

And because the $240 million garbage depot is adjacent to the Asphalt Green playing fields, it's poised to directly impact the 31,000 children who use the recreational facilities annually — potentially harming them for life, Gutman and Eden claim. 

"Children, as an incident of normal development, continue to grow new alveoli or air sacs in their lungs for up to 10 years after birth. Thus, the effects of [particulate matter] and other pollutants on developing lungs are likely to have permanent, irremediable consequences that persist throughout adulthood," they wrote.

Another anti-MTS coalition called Pledge 2 Protect — of which Residents for Sane Trash Solutions is a member — also released a demographic-centric study Thursday.

That research claims that the neighborhood has "62 percent more minority residents" than the areas around other marine transfer facilities under consideration — Gansevoort-Chelsea, Manhattan; West 59th Street, Manhattan; Southwest Brooklyn; Hamilton Ave, Brooklyn; Grand Review Avenue, Brooklyn; and North Shore Queens.

The BFJ Planning study claims that "census data show that there are more than three times both the number of residents and children... in a 1/4-mile radius of the East 91st Street project compared to the next most populated location —  West 59th Street."

And "31 percent of the residents that live around the East 91st Street MTF are of minority status. This location has 62 percent more minority residents than the next MTF location (West 59th Street) and about five times more minority residents than the other five sites."

BFJ also said that the East 91st Street project disproportionately impacts low-income residents.

"There are 1,173 public housing units near the East 91st Street MTF. One other location has 33 public housing units and all of the other locations have zero units."

The release of both studies — and the announcement of the newly formed Pledge 2 Protect cohort — marks residents' intensifying rally against the planned East 91st Street project, part of the city's solid-waste management plan.

Billed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as a move toward environmental justice, the East 91st Street project has long gotten flak from locals — who claim it will bring pollution, noise, rats, and wreak havoc on the overall quality-of-life.

The mayor's office maintained its support of the project in light of these studies.

John McCarthy, mayoral spokesperson, told DNAinfo.com New York in an email that the station helps ensure that "each borough will bear some responsibility for its trash and reduce the use of trucks used to transport garbage by moving to the use of barges, which is why the facility is located on the water."

"We cannot go back to the days when some boroughs got a free pass by sending their trash across a river or over a bridge," he said.

McCarthy added that he's confident the construction of the station  — now under pending litigation — will go on as planned. 

"Opponents have stopped at nothing to throw up obstacles to getting it built — but have never offered viable alternative sites in Manhattan to locate it," he said.

"We've prevailed in every lawsuit challenging the project and we've not only won every lawsuit — we've won every case at the trial level as well as every appeal. No court has ever ruled against this project."