Members of a city environmental council have weighed in about plans to expand a recycling business in the port district: They want nothing to do with it.
The members of the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) offered that take at their regular monthly meeting Wednesday night at City Hall, about expansion plans recently unveiled by Murphy Road Recycling LLC for its plant at 19 Wheeler St. EAC members discussed a draft of a letter urging the state delegation to discourage the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection from approving the plans.
The company sparked local debate in 2015 when it sought and won permission to take in municipal solid waste (MSW) like cardboard and packaging in addition to construction debris.
It now wants to double the size of its facility, add new, more efficient equipment to recycle, and offer itself as a transfer point for “putrescible” MSW —more popularly known as garbage — from towns potentially up to a 30-mile radius from New Haven.
The environmental pluses and minuses of the expansion were the subject of spirited debate last month as officials from the company addressed the city’s EAC’s regular monthly meeting. The meeting was part of a mandated “E.J,” or environmental justice process, choreographed through the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, where the final green light resides.
Under state law, a business like Murphy Road Recylcing must engage in “meaningful public participation” letting residents in the affected low-income — and, in the case of New Haven, high asthma — neighborhoods know the benefits and safeguards in any proposed new building or expansion of scope of work.
On Wednesday night EAC Chair Laura Cahn solicited members’ tweaking of the letter. As the letter was not finished, no vote was taken, and it was not sent and Cahn said she did not want to reveal its contents. Cahn said, however, there is no doubt that the EAC is opposed to the plans.
A previous letter in opposition was sent to the mayor, even prior to Murphy Road officials’ appearance before the EAC.
The text of that letter follows:
NEW HAVEN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
Laura Cahn, Chair—- Kevin McCarthy, Vice Chair—- Kathy Fay, Secretary
Sal DeCola, Board of Alders Representative
Henry Auer, Iris Kaminski, Florestine Taylor
May 3, 2018
The Honorable Toni N. Harp
Mayor of New Haven
Re: Murphy Road Recycling, LLC – Wheeler Street Transfer Station
Dear Mayor Harp:
The New Haven Environmental Advisory Council strongly urges the city of New Haven to stop Murphy Road Recycling, LLC from expanding its waste processing building, located at 19 Wheeler Street in New Haven.
In addition, we strongly urge the city not to allow Murphy Road Recycling to process putrescible waste from other municipalities at the Wheeler Street location.
New Haven has a municipal transfer station for our waste. Our city should not suffer the consequences of processing municipal waste for other localities.
Some of the many reasons this expansion is not appropriate:
● Proximity to a residential area
● Noise and air pollution from trucks and processing equipment
● Smell of garbage wafting over the neighborhood even in cold weather and farther in warm months
● Wear and tear on roads and bridges by garbage trucks
● Objection of neighboring businesses, residents, community leaders, and alders
● Waste-contaminated water run-off washing into the mouth of the Quinnipiac River
Thank you for taking the health and well-being of all New Haven residents into consideration.
The New Haven Environmental Advisory Council
Antunes Weighs In
Opposition also appears to be mounting particularly among the alders on the east side of the city, where the facility operates.
At Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Quinnipiac East Management Team, Quinnipiac Meadows Alder Gerald Antunes said, “This is [already] a dumping part of the city. We don’t want to add to that. We get dumped on! It’s like the river is the line.”
Antunes was among those who toured the Murphy Road Recycling facility on Wheeler Avenue back in the spring. He said he personally noted clogged drains and in general was not impressed.
New Haven’s own household garbage is brought to the public works facility on Middletown Avenue as a transfer station, and is then hauled away for incineration. But many smaller towns without facilities of their own could now, should state D.E.E.P. approve, consider New Haven home for their garbage, at least for the 24 or 48 hours that it would remain at Murphy Recycling’s proposed transfer station.
Antunes said that New Haven’s garbage should continue to be dealt with at the municipal facility on Middletown Avenue, and he did not want other towns’ garbage making its way through the streets of the east side.
“There are too many problems,” he said. “We’re concerned. We have to get control over this.”