Urban Studies 515 Race, Poverty and the Environment By: Chris Jackson Public has permission to use the material herein, but only if author(s), course, university, and professor are credited. Environmental Injustice in Harlem The Placement of the North River Sewage Treatment Plant in Harlem
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By: Chris Jackson
Public has permission to use the material herein, but only if author(s), course, university, and professor are credited.
Ever since its construction, members of the community have complained about overbearing odors coming from the North River Sewage Treatment Plant.
The plant processes over 1.4 billion gallons of raw sewage a day.
In addition to the smell, after the opening of the North River Sewage Treatment Plant, many residents complained of: itchy eyes
Shortness of Breath
other respiratory ailments
In 1962, city planners originally designated 2nd street along the Hudson River as the location for the North River Sewage Treatment Plant.
- Due to technical problems and community resistance, the site was later rejected.
The City Planning Commission decided to relocate the site up to 137th street in West Harlem.
- The City did not seek input from the community and made it apparent that the local community boards would not have much influence in the location of the sewage plant.
Finally listening to community concerns, the City promised a 28-acre state park to be built on top of the sewage plant.
- The park to 23 years to be built, a full seven years after the sewage plant was opened.
The community continued to submit reports of smelly fumes seeping from the North River Sewage Treatment Plant.
- In 1991, after 6 years of community unrest, city officials promised to devote $50 million- $100 million to remedy the problem.
The actually amount was $53 million
However, in 19993, near completion of the $53 million in improvements, a report was released stating that the improvements would only clear up 75% of the odor problems. To eliminate all odor from the sewage plant, another $100 million would be needed, an investment the city was not willing to make.
6 out of 8 MTA’s Manhattan Bus depots and several parking lots are located north of 96th street meaning that residents of these neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by emissions from these buses.
- Multiple studies have demonstrated the association between ozone and smog and emergency room visits foe asthma
- It is estimated that 20% of Harlem residents suffer from asthma.
- Keeping the Hudson Depot in lower Manhattan open
- Using clean fuel buses and depots, such as natural gas buses in Harlem.
- Campaign asked New York City and State to end the policy of buying diesel buses.
The campaign resulted in the Governor’s mandate that :
3. One depot per borough be converted to natural gas.