Urban Studies 515Race, 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 • Placement of Manhattan Bus depots in Harlem
North River Sewage Treatment Plant Problem: 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 Asthma other respiratory ailments
The North River Sewage Treatment Plant • Picture from: www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dep/html/northri.html
Background/History 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.
Community still unhappy 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
Problem still unsolved 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.
72nd street White- 84% Black- 8% Asian- 2.8% Avg. Income- $123,172 Persons Below Poverty Line- 8.5% 145th street White- 15.5% Black- 60.6% Asian- 1.3% Avg. Income- $26,123 Persons Below Poverty Line- 33.7% Demographics
Placement of Bus Depots in Harlem 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.
Alternative Plans • There are alternatives to sitting more diesel bus depots in Northern Manhattan - Keeping the Hudson Depot in lower Manhattan open - Using clean fuel buses and depots, such as natural gas buses in Harlem.
The Fight! • In 1997, in collaboration with local political leaders and the Transit Workers Union, WE ACT launched its public education campaign “If you Live Uptown, Breathe at Your Own Risk” - Campaign asked New York City and State to end the policy of buying diesel buses.
Victory! The campaign resulted in the Governor’s mandate that : • All new MTA depots be compressed natural gas depots. • That the MTA buy 300 new compressed natural gas buses in its upcoming 2000-2004 purchase plan. 3. One depot per borough be converted to natural gas.
Bibliography 1.www.weact.org/pressadvisories/2000_nov_15.html 2.www.umich.edu/~snre492/ny.html 3.www.ci.nyc.us/html/dep/html/northri.html