Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, March 22, 2001

Release #091-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel / Michael Anton
(212) 788-2958
  Peter Fenty / Kathy Dawkins(Sanitation) (212) 788-3917


53-year History of Garbage Disposal at Site Comes to an End

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Governor George E. Pataki and Staten Island Borough President Guy V. Molinari today presided at a ceremony marking the arrival of the last barge of household garbage at the 3,000-acre Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. It is estimated that more than 400,000 barges have sailed to the Staten Island landfill over the last 53 years. The event also marked the completion of the City's interim plan to transfer New York City waste that began in July of 1997 with the export of Bronx waste. Also present were Deputy Mayor Joseph J. Lhota, Sanitation Commissioner Kevin P. Farrell, and state Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Erin Crotty.

"Five years ago, I promised the residents of Staten Island that the City would stop shipping its garbage to this landfill," Mayor Giuliani said. "Today, I'm proud to announce the fulfillment of that promise. As Staten Island continues to thrive and grow, its residents can take pleasure in knowing that the world's largest landfill has taken on its last shipment. Staten Island's future has never looked brighter."

"In 1996 we promised New Yorkers and the residents of Staten Island that we would close the Fresh Kills landfill and end the environmental nightmare that has burdened this area for more than 50 years," Governor Pataki said. "Working with the City of New York we have kept that promise and even exceeded our goals by closing the landfill ahead of schedule. Today marks the final shipment of trash to the landfill and the beginning of a new era of environmental restoration for Staten Island and the entire city."

"This is a glorious day for Staten Island," Borough President Molinari said. "I want to publicly thank and congratulate Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki. Without their commitment and efforts, we would not be poised to slam the door on what has been the most notorious environmental burden in Staten Island's history.

"It took the work of many dedicated individuals at all levels of government. In addition to the Mayor and Governor, I want to single out Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota, who has personally guided this massive endeavor through all of the sensitive twists and turns, and John Cahill, formerly of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, who worked diligently with the City to reach all the milestones necessary to achieve this goal. I also want to commend to my own staff, who began preparing research early in my administration, pinpointing all the environmental hazards this monster has inflicted on the people of this Borough.

"The closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill is, by far, the highlight of my 27-year political career, and perhaps the greatest victory in our Borough's history. The closure of the dump represents a bright, new beginning for Staten Island," Borough President Molinari continued.

NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kevin P. Farrell said, "The sailing of the last barge represents the fulfillment of a mandate that the Mayor set back in 1996 to stop the shipment of garbage to Fresh Kills. I am delighted that we have accomplished this goal well ahead of schedule. The sailing of the last barge is a testament to the hard work, ingenuity and determination of all those involved with the landfill's scheduled closing."

The lone barge began its final voyage from the North Shore Marine Transfer Station located in Flushing Bay, Queens early this morning. The barge contained approximately 600 tons of waste collected from the Rockaway, Flushing, Ridgewood and Howard Beach communities in Queens. Queens is the last borough to have its garbage delivered to the landfill.

One of the more innovative features of the City's interim plan is the concept known as borough self-sufficiency. In essence, it restricts the shipment of garbage for disposal from one borough to another. The City has contracts with 15 private waste transfer stations to accept and process for final export garbage generated in each of the five boroughs. The Citywide average cost per ton for export is $64.11.

The interim plan also provides for the export of all the City's managed waste or approximately 13,000 tons per day, to out-of-state facilities, including those located in Pennsylvania and Virginia. The plan was implemented in five phases beginning in July 1997 and concludes with today's final shipment of Queens waste.

By 2005, the Department of Sanitation expects to have in place a waste export system that relies on the use of five existing marine transfer stations to barge roughly half -- or approximately 6,500 tons per day -- to a private waste transfer station in Linden, New Jersey. The remaining daily tonnage will be exported by rail or barge to out-of-state waste disposal facilities.

The next phase of the Fresh Kills closure timeline occurs on July 4, 2001 when the landfill is set to officially close. It is estimated that more than 150 million cubic yards are buried in the four main sections that comprise the Fresh Kills landfills. Two sections have been permanently capped; one is being prepared for its final cover and the fourth is receiving its last shipment of waste today.

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