Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dump Retired NYC Subway Trains in New York Waters, Weiner Says by Lee Landor - Queens Chronicle

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Photo taken at Pier 1 in Battery Park, Manhattan. Pictured from left to right: Dan Mundy, Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, Rep. Anthony Weiner, Eugene O’Reilly, recreational fisherman, and Captain Bill Reddan, President of the Eastern Dive Boat Association.

Seeking both environmental and financial benefits, Congressman Anthony Weiner on Sunday urged the state to allow the dumping of retired subway trains into New York City waters.

He called on Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Grannis to immediately update what he called New York’s “outdated” foreign materials dumping permit process to allow the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to discard its retired subway cars in the city’s waterways.

Not only would that allow for the creation of artificial underwater reefs in New York’s own waters, it would save the MTA millions of dollars, said Weiner, a member of the House’s Environment and Hazardous Materials subcommittee.

Because of the outdated permit procedure, the MTA is forced to spend millions of dollars shipping its retired subway cars to other states, which use them to create artificial reefs in their own waterways. The agency has already footed a $6.3 million bill to ship 2,091 retired train cars to waters off New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland and other states.

In 2001, the MTA began stripping down and shipping aged or worn subway cars to other states that use them to create reefs. Prior to that, the agency stored the old cars at city rail yards.

The states that receive the cars submerge them to create “havens for underwater wildlife and a boon for the environment and fishing industry,” Weiner noted. Meanwhile, he added, “New York’s waters remain barren.”

If the permit procedure is updated, New York would benefit from both the environmental and financial aspects — enhancing the ecology of the city’s waters and saving taxpayers $300 per subway car. It would also allow planning to create four new reefs in the waters of Nassau and Suffolk counties to begin.

“These subway cars may be old, but they can become new homes to fish and wildlife,” Weiner said. “We shouldn’t allow bureaucracy to prevent New York from reaping the benefits of these artificial reefs.”

Just three months ago, Weiner call for a three-part federal aid package to aid Gateway National Park in its cleanup of Jamaica Bay. The plan aimed to enhance “Operation Clean Bay” — a project intended to rid Jamaica Bay of hazardous abandoned vessels and stop illegal boat dumping. Old subway cars, unlike abandoned craft, are drained of all toxic fluids before they are submerged.