Bowing to public pressure, the Bloomberg administration today took the former Fresh Kills landfill off the table as a potential location for a pilot project to convert waste into energy.
In early March, the city asked companies to submit plans for a waste-to-energy facility inside the five boroughs or within 80 miles of its borders, but the only site specifically named as a possible location was a portion of the former landfill.
That set off a firestorm of criticism on Staten Island, where garbage has long been a controversial issue due to Fresh Kills, a massive landfill closed in 2001 after years of debate that is now being turned into a sprawling park.
New York City Councilman Jimmy Oddo, who joined other Staten Island elected officials in raising their concerns with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday, praised the decision to reverse course.
“The thing that we bristled at was that the RFP said to the world, ‘You can show us how you can use any of these technologies within 80 miles of the city of New York, and oh, by the way there’s one publicly owned site that we would ask you to consider,’” said Oddo, the Council minority leader.
“You can’t lead on garbage with Staten Island, given our history,” he added. “We saw this entire issue through the spectrum of Fresh Kills.”
Oddo and other Staten Island elected officials had planned a protest near the former Fresh Kills landfill on Monday, but a fire forced them to cancel the press conference. A town hall meeting was also planned for later this month.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also seized on the issue, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn issued a statement today applauding the mayor for excluding Fresh Kills.
“The mayor listened to the concerns of Staten Island officials about Fresh Kills and decided to remove it as a possible location,” Marc LaVorgna, a Bloomberg spokesman, said in a statement.
The Bloomberg administration is still accepting responses to the RFP, which was only amended to exclude the rock crushing facility at Fresh Kills.
The RFP calls for a state-of-the-art facility that would process up to 450 tons of waste each day, a fraction of the 10,000 tons of waste produced in the city on a daily basis. The city is also looking into ways to boost its lackluster recycling rates.
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