Pols: MTS Near LGA is for the Birds
by Shane MIller
Mar 24, 2009 | 1380 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city's sanitation commissioner responded last week to the concerns of several Queens congress members over the opening of a marine waste transfer station (MTS) near LaGuardia Airport, which they feel is an invitation to repeat the near-tragedy of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, which was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after it hit a bird shortly following takeoff.

"The safe landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 was a miracle, but we cannot afford to run the risk of another emergency landing, especially since the area around the airport is so densely populated," said Congressman Joseph Crowley, who recently held a press conference denouncing plans to open the MTS.

Crowley, along with congress members Anthony Weiner, Gary Ackerman, Carolyn Maloney, and Gregory Meeks, sent a letter as far back as October of 2006 expressing their concerns to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Marion Blakey. The FAA approved plans for the MTS on September 18 of that same year.

"We would like to express our opinion that constructing a 110-foot tower approximately 1,900 feet from the end of a busy runway in the midst of one of the most densely populated cities in the world is, at best, foolhardy," read the letter.

But in a response recently sent to Ackleman, Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner John Doherty assured the congressman that the design of the MTS would ensure the safety of the flying public.

According to Doherty, the College Point facility will resemble a similar facility in Staten Island, where the transfer of waste to airtight containers will take place entirely indoors. The containers will then be placed on a barge and shipped out of the city.

"Throughout this entire process, at no time will waste be exposed to the outdoors," wrote Doherty, "which would be the main attraction to the facility for birds."

The MTS, officially called the North Shore MTS, is part of the city Solid Waste Management Plan, which recently won approval. Under the 20-year plan, the city will begin shipping more of its waste out of New York by barge and rail.

Currently, the city loads much of its garbage on large tractor-trailers, which in turn leave the city for dumps. The new system will take the majority of those trucks off city roads.

"The plan will eliminate nearly six million miles of truck trips per year, and ensure that every borough has the capacity to handle waste and recyclables," wrote Doherty in his letter on the importance of the North Shore MTS to the overall plan, "thereby reducing truck congestion and improving air quality for all New Yorkers."

U.S. Airways Flight 1549 made a miraculous landing in the Hudson River on January 15, after its engines failed shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. An investigation revealed that birds were sucked into both engines, causing them to malfunction.

Unbelievably, no one was injured in the crash landing, and the incident made a national celebrity out of Captain Chesley Sullenberger.

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