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Council delays waste plan vote.

The New York City Council last week voted unanimously to delay it's decision on a comprehensive 20-year solid waste management plan, which has been the center of much controversy mostly because it recommends at least one new incinerator.

The City Council must approve the submission of the proposed plan to the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The council voted 48 to 0 -- three council members were absent -- to delay its decision until Aug. 31.

It was expected that Solid Waste Management Plan would be rejected by the Council. While the plan proposes recycling combined with incineration, opponents say the plan focuses too much on the latter. Advocates for the plan say that all avenues of waste disposal, including incinerators, are critical if the city is to properly maintain its solid waste. The city's Fresh Kills landfill, nearing capacity and considered out-of-step with state standards, is expected to be closed within the next 20 years.

The plan suggests that a $550 million incinerator be built at one extreme of the 260-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard. According to the plan, the incinerator would be built as a "trash-to-energy" facility or a co-generation plant where the heat from the burning garbage would be converted into steam or electricity that could be sold.

Real Estate Groups Support Plan

Real estate industry groups have spoken out in support of the Solid Waste Management Plan. The New York Building Congress has testified at City Council hearings and placed ads on The New York Times op/ed page touting the benefits of the "waste-to-energy" plant. The group asserts it is environmentally sound and would bring revenue to the city. The plant would also, their ad states, be economically beneficial because its construction would generate 650 construction jobs and a sound system of solid waste disposal would attract businesses.

The Real Estate Board of New York has also given testimony before the City Council.

"I think it goes beyond economic development, said Steven Spinola, president of the board. "In the long term, it is not practical to think we can solve the city's waste problems with just recycling."

There is, however, he said, room for discussion in terms of the current plan.

Incinerators Still Unpopular

While some incineration appears inevitable, there is obvious resistance in the Council to accept the plan's current level. Since the plan requires the Council's stamp, it appears the mayor will have to strive for a scheme that puts greater emphasis on recycling.

One Council spokesperson said the consultants hired by the Council testified that the proportion of recycling vs. incineration predicted in the Solid Waste Management is incorrect. According to a report by the consultant, Killam Associates, the plan states that by the year 2000 there will be 18 percent incineration and 41 percent recycling. Instead, the consultants estimate, there will be 47 percent incineration and 20 percent recycling.

Sam Bishop, an environmental consultant who is currently a technical consultant for the Riverdale Committee on Clean Air, said many Council Members are standing firm against the current plan. Bishop was present at hearings on the plan last week.

"I have never seen such anger in the face of Council Members," he said.

According to Bishop, "waste-to-energy" or co-generation plants for garbage, in the past, have not been as successful as the city hopes their's would be. Bishop said the city would never make enough profit on energy sold to cover its costs related to the facility. The city, he said, is planning on energy prices that have not existed since 1973.
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Title Annotation:New York City Council
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jul 15, 1992
Words:587
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