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South Bronx Residents Frustrated Over Lack of Hearing on Power Plants

By Eddie Small | September 24, 2015 5:48pm
 The comment period on a pair of South Bronx power plants is being extended again.
The comment period on a pair of South Bronx power plants is being extended again.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

PORT MORRIS — The state is extending the comment period yet again on a pair of South Bronx power plants that environmental activists hope to see removed from their borough, causing frustration among some Bronxites eager for a public hearing on the buildings.

The plants are located at 688 E. 132nd St. by the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, and Bronxites have been petitioning since late August to get a public hearing on them that they hope could end up permanently shutting down the facilities.

"They should support a public hearing," said Harry Bubbins, a member of the environmental group South Bronx Unite, which is spearheading the effort to get rid of the power plants. "Not try to cut side deals and silence people in the community that have sincere concerns."

The Department of Environmental Conservation has said it will not decide whether to hold a public hearing until the comment period closes and all comments are reviewed.

This period was originally set to end in early September, but the DEC later extended it to Sept. 18 and is now extending it again, according to a department spokesman.

Although the spokesman said he did not know how long the comment period would be extended or the reason for the extension, South Bronx Unite member Mychal Johnson said it was done to allow time for a meeting between the activists trying to shut down the plants and the New York Power Authority, which runs them.

"They extended the comment period anticipating a meeting between our coalition and interested parties and [the] New York Power Authority," he said. "They said they would extend it until after we all had a chance to sit down and talk and get more information."

Although Johnson said he was pleased that people would now have more time to comment on the power plants and that his group would get to meet with the NYPA, he maintained that a public hearing on the plants was still important to ensure that all of the community's questions about them were answered.

NYPA declined to comment on the extension and the possibility of a public hearing.

An online petition that the group started last month to shut down the plants currently has 1,364 signatures, and several elected officials have expressed their support for a public hearing, including Rep. Jose Serrano, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

Bubbins characterized a meeting between South Bronx Unite and NYPA as an inadequate gesture of transparency and agreed with Johnson that a public hearing was still very necessary.

"They need to have a public hearing," he said. "We’re definitely not satisfied with that. We don’t want it repermitted."