New York Times New York Region
The New York Times
Home
Job Market
Real Estate
Automobiles
News
International
National
Nation Challenged
Politics
Business
Technology
Science
Health
Sports
New York Region
- The City
- Columns
Education
Weather
Obituaries
NYT Front Page
Corrections
Opinion
Editorials/Op-Ed
Readers' Opinions


Features
Arts
Books
Movies
Travel
Dining & Wine
Home & Garden
Fashion & Style
New York Today
Crossword/Games
Cartoons
Magazine
Week in Review
Photos
College
Learning Network
Services
Archive
Classifieds
Theater Tickets
NYT Mobile
NYT Store
E-Cards & More
About NYTDigital
Jobs at NYTDigital
Online Media Kit
Our Advertisers
Your Profile
Your Profile
E-Mail Preferences
News Tracker
Premium Account
Site Help
Newspaper
  Home Delivery
Customer Service
Electronic Edition
Media Kit
Text Version
TipsGo to Advanced Search
Search Options divide
go to Member Center Log Out
  Welcome, marjorieclarke
E-Mail This Article Printer-Friendly Format
Most E-Mailed Articles

 

April 14, 2002

CON

Reopen Fresh Kills: Brilliant or Boneheaded?

By MARJORIE J. CLARKE

Topics

 Alerts
New York City
Environmental Protection Agency
Recycling of Waste Materials
Create Your Own | Manage Alerts
Take a Tour
Sign Up for Newsletters
"El' 2nd & 3rd Avenue Lines, Bowery & Division Street", 1936

Price: $195. Learn More.


The city has lurched between hasty schemes to incinerate solid waste or export it. Now comes the idea of reopening Fresh Kills. Here's why it is ill advised.

Landfilling is the worst environmental alternative. Fresh Kills, unlike modern landfills, has no protective liner under it, which is why it annually contaminated ground water and wetlands with 1.5 billion gallons of toxic runoff and emitted more than 15 billion cubic feet of greenhouse and carcinogenic gases. Reopening it would require multiple liners, water and air quality controls and numerous permits and environmental reviews. Increasing the dump's height atop slippery liners could make it unstable.

Reduction of waste at the source, along with reuse, recycling and composting are the solutions favored by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the city's official citizens' advisory boards. The city has pursued these ideas halfheartedly, continually cutting important programs. Ten years ago, the city came close to building its own recycling plants and was developing local markets for the materials. But it awarded the opportunity to sort and market recyclable items to multinational conglomerates. The city could save tens of millions of dollars with approaches like setting up buy-back centers for recyclables in low-income areas, leaving grass clippings on lawns and offering economic incentives to encourage recycling and reduction of garbage.

Landfilling is a step backward. While the city wasted time and money on ill-conceived plans to export garbage, other cities achieved 50 percent recycling rates without breaking the bank. They collect and market recyclables efficiently. They buy products made of their recyclables. Cities like San Francisco compost food waste, which represents 15 percent of New York's garbage.

New Yorkers want to recycle. Even though the Mayor has proposed ending the city's container recycling program, a recent poll by Channel 11 showed that 84 percent of New Yorkers want the program to continue.

Staten Islanders pushed for the 1996 state law that mandated the closing of Fresh Kills, and they haven't changed their minds. Their feelings are understandable. For the city as a whole, instead of resorting to failed policies of the past, we should create a forward-looking system that is under our own control.

Marjorie Clarke is scientist in residence at Lehman College, the author of many articles on waste management and vice chairwoman of the Citywide Recycling Advisory Board.



Home | Back to New York Region | Search | Help Back to Top


E-Mail This Article Printer-Friendly Format
Most E-Mailed Articles


Advertiser Links
Fun Winter Getaways in Dutchess County

Small Business Center: OPEN NetworkSM tools

No Inactivity Fees; Just $500 to Start

25 COMMISSION-FREE TRADES Join Ameritrade today!

Wake up to the world with home delivery of The New York Times newspaper. Click Here for 50% off.


Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information