Third Track Could Become Garbage Barge


Below is a letter addressed to Edward M. Dumas, vice president of market development and public affairs for the Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project.

We learned from a [Long Island Business News] article that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has been considering a “waste-by-rail” proposal from Green Rail Transfer that would transport up to 900 tons of baled municipal solid waste a day via the Long Island Rail Road mainline that runs through the heart of communities that will be impacted by the proposed Third Track Project.

Notwithstanding representations to the contrary, increased transportation of freight is clearly a motivation for the for the Third Track Project. The issue of the increased freight, potentially including hazardous waste, is of great concern to the communities and residents we represent. Unfortunately, it is an issue that the LIRR has avoided in the scoping and environmental review process.

Now, we learn that at the same time that the LIRR rushed through an environmental review process in order to suppress opposition, a state agency has been reviewing a proposal to send 900 tons of municipal trash down the main line each day. This proposal was never disclosed in the DEIS or at the hearings. Community leaders and residents must be provided with full disclosure and must be given the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns. An environmental impact statement that fails to address this issue is per se incomplete.

Given the costs and sensitivity of the disposal of waste on Long Island, the proposal by Green Rail is likely to be only the first. It is not difficult to envision that the main line, with its enhanced capacity from the Third Track, will become a highway for moving enormous amounts of waste through our communities. This very well could be the 21st Century version of the “garbage barge.”

Considering the above, we demand that the LIRR amend the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, re-open the comment period and schedule an additional hearing. The public has a right to have their voices heard on this very important environmental issue, which has been denied by the failure to disclose this obvious environmental impact.

We also call for the immediate disclosure of any communications between the DEC, MTA/LIRR and/or Green Rail regarding the “Trash Train” proposal. To this end, we will be serving your offices and the DEC with FOIL requests.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of the above. We ask that you contact counsel to the Legislative Majority, Christopher Ostuni at 516-571-6220 to confirm a reopening of the environmental review process.

—Legislators Richard J. Nicolello, Vincent T. Muscarella, Laura Schaefer and Rose Marie Walker

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