Staten Island Waste Transfer Station Does Dirty Work Of Mayor's Trash Plan
The city's daily 12,000 tons of trash and recyclables take an interesting and smelly journey, and NY1's Courtney Gross went to Staten Island to see where it all goes.
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Department of Sanitation workers Pete Tucciarelli and Michael Kruszka have been partners for four years.
"I am worried about what people throw out. It's somebody's garbage. I'm worried about what's in these bags right now," said Tucciarelli.
The job may be thankless, but it is crucial.
"The quicker we can get it off the streets, in my opinion, the safer it is for the people," said Kruszka.
Roll call starts at 530 a.m., and then the two rumble down the streets of Staten Island, picking up anything left behind, including a couch.
The trash collectors play an essential role in making sure the mayor's solid waste plan, first approved in 2006, goes off without a hitch.
It all ends up at the borough's transfer station, the first up and running under the mayor's plan. There will eventually be four more, equally distributed throughout the city, to make sure every borough is dealing with its own trash.
A crucial goal of Bloomberg's trash plan is making sure neighborhoods that had borne the trash burden saw relief, and that trash was transported to out-of-state landfills on trains or barges, instead of diesel-spewing trucks.
"Everything in Staten Island is now being done by rail," said Keith Mellis of the Department of Sanitation.
The plan has hit some snags, as the construction of other transfer stations, like one on the Upper East Side, have been delayed due to lawsuits or construction setbacks.
Advocates remain hopeful it will be fully implemented.
"People expected all the components to be in place by 2012 and now we're a couple years off schedule. Those of us who have been fighting for this for 15-20 years, we have the long view," said Eddie Bautista of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
Back on Staten Island, Tuesday's trash was crammed in a 19-ton shipping container, put on a rail car and sent to a landfill at a cost that has climbed at least 50 percent since 2000, thanks to sparse landfill space.
Staten Islanders are grateful that landfill is not on the borough. Instead, it is in South Carolina.