After more than one month of operation, and nearly a month of daily moves, New York & Atlantic Railway says rail shipments of municipal solid waste (MSW) from Brooklyn’s Varick Avenue transfer station in East Williamsburg have gone smoothly. NY&A moves approximately 1.7 million pounds of MSW six days a week from the facility, owned and operated by Waste Management Inc., to Virginia.
NY&A handled its first regular shipment in Brooklyn on Feb. 16, after making test moves in late January. NY&A ships the MSW bycontainer to its yard at Fresh Pond (Queens), handing them to CSX Transportation for the trip to Waste Management’s Virginia facility.
Brooklyn is the third of five New York City boroughs to significantly increase rail use for handling MSW, in accordance with plans advanced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reduce MSW truck traffic. Staten Island began shipping MSW by rail in 2006, and MSW also moves by rail from the Bronx. NY&A says it hopes to begin moving MSW from all New York City boroughs by 2011.
"Instead of forcing a few specific communities to deal with the majority of the city's waste and recyclables, which is the way it's worked for decades," Bloomberg said at a news conference earlier this month, "we're making sure that this burden is distributed fairly and equally among all five boroughs."
About one-third of the city's MSW is now moved by rail, with sanitation officials seeking a target of 90% or better to be moved by rail, or barge, in the near future. The city’s Solid Waste Management Plan seeks to eliminate nearly six million miles of truck trips per year in New York, while giving each borough the ability to handle its own waste and recyclables.
“The diversion from truck to rail reduces greenhouse gases and other pollutants in the region,” said Paul Victor, NY&A president, in a statement. “This will save more than a half-million gallons of fuel over the next ten years.” Prior to using the NY&A, waste was trucked to a land fillin Pennsylvania. Victor notes, “Trains are three times more fuel efficient than trucks and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds or more.”
NY&A is an affiliate of Chicago-based Anacostia & Pacific Co., Inc., and operates primarily over Long Island Rail Road rights-of-way.
Photo: NY&A President Paul Victor addresses a press conference at Waste Management’s Varick Ave. facility with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (right) and other government, Waste Management, and community representatives.