Cleanup North Brooklyn and their legal representatives filed a lawsuit last Wednesday against Brooklyn Transfer, a private waste transfer company. They allege that the waste station, located at 105-115 Thames Street, has caused noxious smells, rats, air pollution and disruptive noise.
“They disregard the people around them,” said Patty Lopez Ramos, a Bushwick resident and member of Cleanup North Brooklyn. “They don’t make any efforts to make a better community.”
Jen Chantrtanapichate, president and founder of the group, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. She said longtime families and young children deserve better air and quality of life.
“This company has been running at the expense of our community’s health and well being,” she said. “This kind of behavior is not necessary for them to make money. They have the ability to operate better, however they don’t.”
Last October, Cleanup North Brooklyn released a report detailing 1,262 violations committed by Brooklyn Transfer in a six-day period last May. Violations include idling, leaving their station’s doors open at inappropriate times, and sidewalk violations.
Chantrtanapichate said their organization has “done our part” to make their demands known at multiple public forums. They even had a sit-down meeting with the owners to discuss their issues, but have seen no improvements.
“There hasn’t been any reasonable changes,” she said. “Their lack of responsibility to improve as neighbors has led us to the decision to serve them in the court of law.”
Melissa Iachan, a senior staff attorney with New York Lawyers for Public Interest, which is representing the organization, said the lawsuit claims the owners and operators of the facility have created a “public and private nuisance.”
Those nuisances include excessive odors and noise, vermin, air pollution, dangerous truck traffic and other public irritants, she said.
The lawsuit will also allege violation of permit conditions, local laws and regulations.
“Brooklyn Transfer has been interfering with the community’s ability to live their lives safely and healthily, enjoy their property and homes, and enjoy the public spaces in the neighborhood,” Iachan said. “Promises were made and were not kept.”
The plaintiffs are seeking changes that will “eliminate the burdens” the community has endured, she added.
Longtime Bushwick residents said they hope the lawsuit changes the company’s practices and send a message to waste companies like Brooklyn Transfer.
“The message is that privately owned, for-profit garbage companies can’t run their businesses however they please,” said activist Ben Weinstein. “These facilities must follow regulations.
“They cannot put their profits before the safety of these communities,” he added. “The communities should have a say in how these facilities are run.”
Resident Sanders Mendez, who has lived in Bushwick since 1983, said his family and neighbors deserve better living conditions.
“We have been exposed to noise, stench and dust from the Brooklyn Transfer facility close by, not to mention the idling trucks that pollute our neighborhoods almost 24 hours a day,” he said. “We are here today to be part of this change for the community.”
For Chantrtanapichate, the noxious smells and pollution have forced her to avoid the station and close her windows for six days a week. Even her car was damaged by a Brooklyn Transfer truck, she said.
Though some residents have called for the station to shut down and leave, Chantrtanapichate said she sees the lawsuit as the next step to “hold them accountable.”
“We recognize that it’s a company and it’s not easy to shut down a company,” she said. “We’re not asking them to shut down, we’re asking them to simply abide to their operating permit, which should be normal.”