2001-07-14 / Letters

Ravaged By Pollutants

Ravaged By Pollutants

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter in an attempt to alert the appropriate authorities about an ongoing and consistent violation of air, sewer, and noise pollution laws.  I am a resident
and property manager of a multi-family home in a neighborhood called Rockaway Park in Queens, New York.  Our home is situated on Beach 117th Street and Newport Avenue.

The consistent pollution that I am referring to takes place on Newport
Avenue, beginning on 116th Street and running through half of 117th Street. This particular location is used by the Green Bus Lines, Inc. of Jamaica, Queens. This Green Bus Lines Route begins at Beach 116th Street. 

It runs along Newport Avenue to Beach 147 Street, proceeds along Beach 147 Street to Rockaway Beach Boulevard.  From Rockaway Beach Boulevard, it merges onto Beach Channel Drive to Fort Tilden and then over the Marine Park Bridge/Gill Hodges Memorial Bridge to continue north on Flatbush Avenue to an area known as the "Junction," the intersection of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues. 

At this point, each bus turns around and returns on its route to Beach 116 Street. At Beach 116 Street and Beach 117 Street and Newport Aven

ue, I have witnessed and recorded what I believe to be flagrant abuse of the environment and disregard for environmental protection laws. The buses consistently idle their engines for times varying between 5 and 30 minutes.  A number of these fleet buses emit large amounts of thick black smoke upon acceleration when departing or moving throughout this area. 

In addition, the engines produce excessive amounts of heat, carbon monoxide, general air and noise pollution.  It is also quite easy to observe fuel and oil that have dripped upon
and have been absorbed by the asphalt streets adjacent to the sidewalks at this location. Many fear that the water table is continually polluted. 

These pollutants are probably being washed into the nearby sewer system. I have made several complaints over the past few years of this abuse.
Several times inspectors were sent down in clearly marked DEC or DEP vehicles where they positioned themselves conspicuously in the view of the bus drivers that they were sent to
observe.  Considering this fact, still on several occasions, I believe the
bus drivers were served with summonses.
  Officials at this bus company have been notified about this problem on
many occasions over the past few years.  They continually admit that their drivers should not be doing what they are doing.  Inspectors from the company have been observed
present while several of the buses idled for more than the legally allotted time period.  Sometimes, the drivers and inspectors engage in conversation during these times. At
other times, in all fairness, the drivers shut the engine when they see the inspectors.  This does not happen frequently. 
  The drivers have also been observed locking their buses with the engines running and vacating them. The drivers go to the stores on the nearby street, use the public pay phone across the street, or even just stand outside their buses and talk to people, all while their engines are running.  The noise and fumes come from the rear of the vehicles and into our home.  During the summer this is particularly harsh due to the heat and fact that the house windows are typically left open.

The bus company states that this area is deemed a "hold over point" for
their drivers to take a break. Each bus sits at this location for about twenty minutes.  A new bus comes about every 30 minutes, with variations.  Sometimes, there will be two to three buses at this hold over point.   Usually, at least one of these buses
continues to idle.  In any event, these buses rotate through 24 hours per day/7 days per week. There seems to be a different bus continuously idling at any time.  At night, our residents have frequently complained of the buses awakening them.  At various times, they have complained of the
noise and fumes. 

This is a residential area that is not supposed to be used a bus depot. The weekends seem worse than midweek.  This may be due to the fact that the inspectors are not present on weekends and that the bus company's main offices are closed. It may be because the bus drivers complete their route faster and therefore spend
more time at the hold over point taking a break.

We have made efforts to have the bus company address this problem and have made personal efforts to talk to the individual drivers about this problem. The drivers shut the buses down only when complained to. Some drivers do so politely while others become nasty, sarcastic, and defiant.

We feel that the DEC, DEP, DOT, and DMV need to address this issue and other community concerns about pollution in a clear, timely, and aggressive manner. These public transportation companies should undergo more frequent inspections. Their
subsidized vehicles should be late model or retired from operation. They should ultimately be electrically powered or powered by non-polluting sources. 

I believe it is a disgrace that my income tax dollars, property tax dollars, and even tolls end up subsidizing companies that continually and flagrantly violate the law.  I should not be paying for the pollution of my ground or air.  This company and other such companies need to be
reviewed more aggressively. Fines should be stiffer, swifter, and more frequent. The company and driver need to be fined. The company should be forced to post "no idling" signs to remind their drivers of the law, both inside and outside the vehicles. Their current efforts, if any, have failed.

BRIAN O’CONNELL
                                  


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