Monday, November 1, 2010

Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) -- The “Dirty Dozen”: 12 Things Everyone Should Know About Freight Rail in NYC...

Recent CURES News Coverage - CURES 'Dirty Dozen' Lists Blasts Railroads by Daniel Bush - Glendale Register

  1. CURES is in favor of freight rail, and we want to see it become a genuinely "green" mode of transportation (see our mission statement below). No communities have suffered more from trucks, highways, and congestion than we have.

    2. Freight rail as it exists today is not "green" or “sustainable” in Queens. Freight rail is trashing our communities 365 days a year because of:

    - Air and water borne pollution coming from open gondolas of solid waste.

    - Noxious odors from gondolas and vented containers of solid waste that come into our neighborhoods by train and are routinely parked by homes -- sometimes for days. These odors limit use and enjoyment of adjacent properties, and attract flies and vermin.

    - Noxious fumes, noise, and air pollution from idling and switching trains -- including 1978-vintage locomotive engines operated by Providence & Worcester and NY & Atlantic. NY & Atlantic is a franchisee of the MTA/LIRR, which has a large fleet of these old freight locomotives and collects fees from freight rail operations.

    - Filthy and unsightly properties in and around the rail corridor that degrade better-kept private industrial properties and our well-kept residential neighborhoods with dumping, dead trees, litter, graffiti, and habitat for disease vectors.

    - Toxic and flammable chemicals that are everpresent in the rail corridor running through our neighborhoods. These include rail tankers of non-odorized liquefied petroleum gas and the Buckeye Pipeline that supplies airline fuel.

    3. Problems created by current freight rail/solid waste transport operations already are at intolerable levels in our communities.

    4. Today our communities effectively are subsidizing the profits of freight railroads and their customers. This is because they are being allowed to use old technology and operations that create burdens for our communities. As a result, current freight rail operations are needlessly draining health and value out of our communities.

    5. Many people are unaware that ALL rail freight that travels into or out of Brooklyn or Long Island must pass through Fresh Pond rail Terminal in Glendale, Queens. This small rail yard already is an overcrowded bottleneck. Even current levels of traffic have pushed expanded railroad operations into residential areas where 50-year residents have never experienced anything like this before. 

    6. Because of the way rail problems already are trashing our communities, regional transportation plans to increase the number of freight portals that rely on rail -- like the Cross Harbor tunnel and Long Island Intermodal truck-to-rail terminal projects -- simply cannot be planned and implemented without first: 1. upgrading freight rail and solid waste equipment and operations, and 2. including alternatives to Fresh Pond Terminal. 

    7. The freight rail problems we are experiencing are city, state, and nationwide problems that railroads and their customers are "greenwashing" with advertising, PR, and lobbying. In 2010, the railroad lobby opposed modest, palliative state legislation to tarp open gondolas of waste. 

    8. In NY State and NYC, all major federal rail funding is going into passenger rail -- with almost nothing for freight rail. This is not true in other states. If the LIRR/MTA put back into service the same passenger rail technologies they employed in 1978, the public would be outraged. Yet, this is the outmoded state of freight rail that our communities are forced to live with. 

    9. The problems that communities along the rail line are experiencing with solid waste were only anticipated for areas in and around solid waste transfer stations when Environmental Impact Studies were done. Rail was assumed to be "green." Studies for railroad expansions by the Surface Transportation Board take a similar myopic view. This is the New York City metropolitan area, not the middle of Nebraska. The city, state, and federal governments need to go back to the drawing board. 

    10. If other boroughs and Long Island are allowed to export their garbage to Queens, the city's Solid Waste Management Plan concept of "fair share" is not fulfilled. If garbage seems to "disappear" into Queens there is less motivation to "reduce, re-use, recycle."

    11. Queens is being treated as a dumping ground for regional environmental, transportation, and solid waste burdens. This is an unjust and short-sighted way to deal with serious, long-term public health and economic development issues.

    12. Find more information on the CURES Facebook page

Mary Parisen,  Co-Chair 718-877-6563 
Laura Zimmer, Co-Chair 718-386-7132