2006_07_garbarge.jpgThe City Council passed the controversial trash plan that will create a new transfer station on the Upper East Side and a recycling center in the Meatpacking District as well as shift garbage disposal from trucks to barges. The plan, which was approved 44 to 5, was a hotbed of emotions and terms like "environmental racism." The outer boroughs (finally, Manhattan would have to deal with its own trash!) and environmentalists (garbage trucks have shorter routes, taking trash to four new transfer stations that will have barges taking the trash out) hailed the proposal while Upper East Siders hate the idea of a garbage transfer station being built near a park. Though there are environmental benefits to the plan, the Department of Sanitation commissioner said that the cost of removing trash will increase from $77 to $107 per town. Here's how the Mayor's press release describes the plan:

The Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) will fundamentally change the way the City transports waste. Currently, DSNY trucks and private tractor trailers export about 84 percent of the City’s residential garbage – which totals 12,000 tons a day. Under the new plan, Sanitation trucks will be used to export only 13 percent, while the use of long-haul tractor-trailer trucks will be eliminated entirely. Instead, the City will export almost 90 percent of the City’s residential waste by barge or rail.

Under the SWMP, New York City will build four new Marine Transfer Stations (MTS). Barges will carry containerized waste from Sanitation trucks to an inter-modal facility. The barges will be transferred to a rail car or a sea-faring barge and sent to an out-of-state waste disposal facility. In addition, the plan will make use of up to six privately-owned rail transfer stations in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Together, the rail and marine transfer stations will handle nearly all of the City’s residential waste, and the Department of Sanitation will also make its best effort to attract commercial waste haulers to its new marine transfer stations.

As a result, Sanitation trucks will travel about 2.7 million fewer miles per year, and travel by tractor-trailer trucks will be reduced by 3 million miles per year. The Departments of Sanitation and Transportation will also conduct a study identifying practical and cost-effective ways to reduce the impact of transfer station truck traffic on communities. In addition, the four new Marine Transfer Stations will include state-of-the-art environmental controls, as well as an advanced odor–neutralization system.

The plan still needs to be passed by the state, and opponents will be heading to Albany to fight it. And if passed, it will not be operational until 2009. The NY Times has a graphic of the different transfer stations in the plan.

Photograph of garbage barge from cottergarage on Flickr