Teamsters Join Bronx Environmental Justice Rally for Waste Equity
Proponents of Intro 495-A called on Council Member Rafael Salamanca to protect Bronx residents
BRONX, NY—South Bronx residents, community organizations, and environmental justice advocates gathered yesterday at New York City Council Member Rafael Salamanca’s office to rally for waste equity in the Bronx. The South Bronx handles more than one-third of NYC’s garbage and has 14 waste transfer stations, compared to most NYC communities, which have none. The high volume of trucks traveling to and from the stations contributes to the Bronx’s asthma rate—the highest in the city and among the highest in the country. Council Member Salamanca, who represents the overburdened community of Hunts Point, has refused to sign on in support of legislation that will protect this low-income community of color in his district from receiving even more trash and truck traffic.
Intro 495-A, sponsored by North Brooklyn Council Members Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso, would reduce the amount of garbage that transfer stations are permitted to accept—which currently is much higher than the amount of waste most transfer stations actually process—in the most overburdened communities in the city. The bill would also cap the amount of garbage that could be processed in all community districts in the city. The bill is a protective measure to ensure that the communities that bear far more than their fair share of the city’s waste do not have to endure even more in the future.
Outside of Salamanca’s district office in Hunts Point, more than 50 residents—including students from local middle schools and high schools—demanded that Council Member Salamanca take his constituents’ concerns into consideration and support the bill. The lively crowd, many dressed in holiday-themed garb, posted a wish list of environmental justice demands on the Council Member’s office door, as well as a “naughty list,” comprised of the Bronx City Council members who have withdrawn their support for the bill due to pressures from Salamanca.
“The South Bronx is surrounded by highways, overburdened with waste transfer stations, and suffers some of the highest asthma rates of any zip code in the country, said Angela Tovar, director at THE POINT CDC in Hunts Point. “Councilmember Salamanca and the entire Bronx delegation has an obligation to take decisive action to protect our community from handling any more trash.”
“As a city-wide organization with members in the communities most impacted by garbage, NYC-EJA is appalled that Councilmember Salamanca has bent to the will of industry lobbyists at the expense of his district,” remarked Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. “Intro 495-A would cut over 100 daily truck trips from the South Bronx, and protect the neighborhood from handling more garbage in the future.”
David Shuffler, Executive Director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice stated, “I doubt that the owners of these facilities would ever tolerate this kind of pollution, noise, and smell in the communities that they live in. It is a shame that our elected officials are letting this happen in the South Bronx.”
“A few communities including the South Bronx have dealt with far more than their fair share of waste for decades,” said Justin Wood, Environmental Justice Organizer at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “This bill is a long overdue step toward limiting the amount of waste and polluting diesel trucks that any single community should bear.”
“The Teamsters stand with environmental justice communities calling for clean air and waste equity,” said Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813. “The companies that mistreat communities are often the same ones that mistreat their workers. Air pollution and low wages. Foul odors and dangerous working conditions. This is one fight and together we will win.”
The holiday-themed rally was organized by a number of community, environmental, and advocacy organizations, including: THE POINT CDC, Mothers on the Move, Nos Quedamos, Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice, Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, Teamsters Local 813, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.