2002-02-16 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks and Stones

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

For those readers interested in cancer generation in our environment, it was recently noted that those reportedly bribing a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania DMV worker bought themselves fraudulent hazardous waste-hauling certifications based on the licenses of twenty Middle Eastern men. As of September 28, 2001 eighteen had been arrested. When the government wishes to, it can act swiftly to crack down on environmental crime. Hazardous waste transport, even in normal times, has been a problem in Rockaway, witness the record of the Edgemere landfill in former years. The landfill a good example of criminal activity closer to home.

Now, back to the mosquito problem connection. When Senator Alton Waldon, who had supported the Edgemere Landfill closure and remediation, sought the help of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's Solid Waste Division, (Richard Bruzzone, P.E., Regional Engineer) to stop the illegal disposal of herbicidal processed waste, he had little success.

In about a half a decade the same State agency finally determined by its own methods that the processed waste was not hazardous! Yet, when brought to the attention of the USEPA at region 2, experts there said that in the State of New Jersey, where the regulations are tougher than NYC and State, a special permit would have been required to sell and develop the land (43-44th Streets in Edgemere near the Jamaica Bay) due to the chemical contamination the waste contains. So, even if highly alkaline, the chemical contamination present is a worry. In dry weather, adults and children breathe in this crud. It's a way of saving on disposal fees, while strip-mined land was filled-in over big ponds, where ducks puddle for food, and where mosquito swarms would generate. Certainly, it's not the greatest approach to mix contaminated fill disposal with mosquito control needs!

In Rockaway, at least some people complain and wonder why?

The dumpers were never traced, and there were caravans of trucks and plenty of fine particulate dusty conditions generated in this 1991 time frame. Since biological insult is cumulate, and the problem is in aging genes as well, maybe it's a good idea not to rely on chemical sprays when swamps like Dubos Point can be permitted to drain naturally with the exchange of tides. All it takes is a little รข018funding be an egosystem' to improve the ecosystem, since tidally flushing wetlands grow better.

The Sanitation Department in the above complaint did remove oily piles that had a bad odor and also contained medical waste bags (red bag infectious waste), and so conditions were getting out of hand. Since the State agency only tested surface conditions, and not for the dangerous cancer-causing chemical dioxin, it is difficult to be confident over the contamination report, but at least the dumping subsided over time.

Yet, the Sanitation Department had its own sifting or processing station at Beach 62 and Larkin Avenue. A lot of local dirt disappeared from Rockaway at the site and inferior stuff left behind and dumped nearby. Mosquito breeding ponds were left, and so it has been a problematic approach to illegal dumping/mosquito control/rat control. It's not the land or plants, but it's the blocked standing water creeks that need attention.


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